I just got furloughed…now what?

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Sad to say, many federal workers in the Washington, DC area have been furloughed and businesses that contract with the federal government are also feeling the pinch of the government shut-down.

Nearly everyone I know has been touched by this shut-down in some way.

Hopefully, everyone will be back on the job soon.  But until then, I wanted to share some ideas for making the most of this time away from work.

Professional Development Ideas

1. Update your LinkedIn Profile.  The furlough might have you thinking about other employment options. LinkedIn is one of the best ways to showcase your expertise and experience, and the free platform has a lot of new features you can take advantage of.  This might be a good time to try them out.  For example, you can upload your resume, letters of recommendation, writing samples and images, and links to videos you may have created.  Update your photo, make new connections, and ask for recommendations, even for past jobs or volunteer work you do.

2. Learn a new skill.  If you have some extra time, check out the online classes offered by Lynda.com.  For an affordable fee, you can learn an in-demand new skill, like blogging, Photoshop, website design, or video editing, to name a few.

The Community Business Partnership in Springfield is offering a Google+ 101 class for $25 this Friday (October 4) and a Marketing Plan class on Tuesday, October 15.  Details here.

At Fletcher Prince, we offer affordable, one-on-one personalized training in your home or office in blogging, Facebook Page administration, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other services.  And you can also learn from our blog, YouTube Channel, and Slideshare account.

3. Create a personal website.  Have you purchased the URL for your name yet?  You might want to consider making that small investment, and creating an affordable website showcasing your achievements, using WordPress.com or Yahoo Small Business.

4. Connect with professionals in other industries or fields.  Now that you have a little extra time, this might be a good opportunity to schedule (affordable) lunch dates or coffee dates.  One idea for where you can get a really affordable lunch and actually hear each other talk 🙂 is Olive Garden in Tysons Corner or Fair Oaks (soup/salad, breadsticks, and a calzone for under $10, Monday-Friday).

Fun Ideas to Boost Your Spirits

Ordinarily, I might suggest visiting a museum, but most of the free museums in town are closed because of the government shut-down.  However, you can also try…

1. Virginia State Parks.  Between $3 and $8 for a parking pass.  I recommend the nearby Sky Meadows State Park, which is an easy day-trip and has a number of great hikes.  Ask the ranger for a free loan of a back pack with field guides, binoculars, and activities.

2. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond has free admission and is always worth a visit.

3. The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester is not free ($10) but it’s worth a visit if you have not seen it (open Tuesday-Friday).

4. Movies at the University Mall Theater in Fairfax are only $2 on Tuesdays and $4 the rest of the week.

5. Cheer on your local high school football team.  A Friday night ticket is about $5 and parking is free 🙂

More Money-Saving Ideas

Since none of us know when this will end (soon, we hope, right?) it makes sense to economize where you can.  There are oodles of ways to save money but for right now, consider

  1. Enjoying all that is free and wonderful about fall — raking leaves, long walks on the bike trail, doing reps with hand weights, playing basketball or tennis at free parks — none of this requires a gym membership!
  2. Don’t buy anything with credit cards, if you can help it.
  3. Before you go shopping for clothes or a gadget, think about whether you can do without for a while longer, or if you can borrow it, or buy it second-hand.  Then take a long walk.
  4. Walgreens and some other businesses and organizations are providing free flu shots to those who qualify.  Many other businesses are offering discounts and offers to furloughed employees (see links below).
  5. A pumpkin flavored coffee at 7-11 is about 1/3 the cost of one at Starbucks (and I think it tastes better).
  6. Save hundreds of dollars a year by doing salon beauty treatments at home.
  7. Go out for breakfast instead of dinner. You can get pancakes, eggs and bacon for $4 at Denny’s, and it’s healthier to get more calories earlier in the day, any way.
  8. Get your books and videos at the library instead of purchasing them.
  9. Re-think your cell phone plan. I bought a cell phone THIS year for $10 at Radio Shack and my plan costs $45/month and it does all I want or need it to do.  That’s a fraction of what I used to pay three years ago!
  10. Gas is a big expense for many of us in the DC area. Make the most of your gas mileage by planning and consolidating your trips, keeping the car tires at the right pressure, and decluttering your trunk

 

 

 

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About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a public relations and marketing consultant, and owns Fletcher Prince (www.FletcherPrince.com). Follow Mary on Twitter @FletcherPrince.

Posted on October 2, 2013, in Client/Agency Relationship and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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