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Furlough care package

July 8th, 2013 at 07:14 pm

My sister is a federal employee and her furlough and 20 percent pay cut officially starts on Friday. This has been a subject of much anxiety for her, to the point that she began having panic attacks.

She is single, and very much depends on all of her income. a 20 percent cut is going to hurt, even though it will only last three months.

I have helped her work through some areas where she could cut back in order to better prepare for this time, and she's done great with it.

Still, I worry. I am trying to put together a furlough care package for her, to help her stretch the dollars during this time. Mostly, by saving her on groceries and household items to free up money for bills.

I'm looking for more ideas on what would work best.

So far, I plan to include some grocery store gift cards.

I am including
-two large boxes of powdered laundry detergent
-two containers of oatmeal
-two peanut butters
-two apple butters
-two tubes of toothpaste
-two large bodywashes
-a large bottle of shampoo and conditioner
- a box of lady products (ahem)
-two large bottles of dish soap
-two boxes of spaghetti.

I pulled the above from my coupons stash. I was thinking of supplementing with:
- a large package of toilet paper
- a large package of paper towels
-microwave popcorn
-pasta sauce
-canned veggies and soups
-bags of coffee
-cooking oil
-sugar

but now I am out of ideas. Any thoughts? What would yo appreciate if you had to take a paycut for three months and we worried about making ends meet?

32 Responses to “Furlough care package”

  1. laura (momcents) Says:


    A $5 gift card to Starbucks for her favorite drink might be something fun to throw in. Maybe something fun to read now that she has more time to herself. I fed my brother for awhile with cereal and dog food and other incidentals that were from my stock. He appreciated it and is now only three weeks unpaid between jobs. Good luck to your sister!

  2. ThriftoRama Says:

    Hmmm. Cat food might be good as well. She has two kitties.

  3. My English Castle Says:

    Chocolate? A Target gift card?

  4. creditcardfree Says:

    Aww....you are the nicest sister! Gift card for a haircut or two. Gas gift card. Litter for the cats. Free entertainment ideas for the area and a Redbox code if available. A massage and downloads for guided meditation to help with the anxiety.

  5. ThriftoRama Says:

    Hmmm. A gas card. Another good idea!

  6. MonkeyMama Says:

    I've got nothing to add. Just wanted to say, Great idea!! & how sweet!

  7. Shiela Says:

    You are so nice. Good for you, I'm sure she will appreciate this.

  8. LuckyRobin Says:

    Maybe tuna fish and condiments.

  9. ThriftoRama Says:

    I'm not really all that sweet. I'm sure you guys would do the same thing.

  10. Miz Pat Says:

    Sounds like you are helping out alot. Good sister!

    She could stop her newspaper subscription and cable service (or tell the cable to suspend her service for a time). That would help her some.

    Poor kid. The stress of all this is something we all share.

  11. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    We are also a furlough family, but so fortunate I am adding hours (I am part time) to compensate (my payrate is lower but will make up at least 25% of the decrease).

    Does she garden? Maybe a little six pack of tomato plants (in pots if necessary). Very easy to grow and lots of home grown food.

  12. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    It is worrisome for you, too, with this happening to your sister. Please tell your sister I am pissed at this Congress who has done this to the country.

  13. ThriftoRama Says:

    It's too late here to plant in the garden and still produce by the end of the season, but she does have some plants already producing. We both garden. She can have some of whatever I pull out, too.

    Unfortunately, as a single person, she doesn't really have the same options we couples do, to have one person make a little more to make up for it.

    Just trying to soften the blow to her.

  14. Suzanne Says:

    Batteries, stamps, ziplocs for packing lunches?

  15. Swimgirl Says:

    Really a great idea! And much better than giving cash, because it seems a more like a gift and a little less like a donation!

  16. snafu Says:

    Three month furlough gives sis a lot of time on her hands without funds to enjoy a terrific holiday. Would she consider some type of part time work or volunteer activity? What free or nearly free activities are offered in her community that she would enjoy? Would she be interested in learning something new? Do your libraries offerer 'How To' DVDs or vast movie selection?

    Pass along our best wishes, I'm confident she can turn this lemon to lemonade by deciding what positive things she wants to do.

  17. ThriftoRama Says:

    She's not really into that kind of stuff. She's more of a stay at home body. I'm sure she'll fill her time. I more worried about stabilizing her financial situation.

  18. nhgirl1970 Says:

    If she is a home body, perhaps she could do Swagbucks, surveys, and other small earning opportunities to not only fill time, but earn a little extra. I think what you are doing to help is wonderful!

  19. ROXY1976 Says:

    That was a very thoughtful idea to help her!

  20. Miz Pat Says:

    I want to know your Sister's reaction to her "care" (as in I love my sister) package. Please let us know.

  21. wowitsawonderfullife Says:

    What a fantastic idea. Beer? Wine? I could not live without my Tetley tea. The first one I thought of was a hair cut but I see it on the list.

  22. baselle Says:

    Chocolate, maybe, depending on whether that's a comfort food or not. Powdered milk if she bakes or cooks. A small first aid kit if you know that she's prone to colds. Canned tuna. Rice.

    Maybe a split on a CSA share or if a farmers market has some sort of scrip, if that's something she does.

    Does she shop at the same grocery stores you do? If so, a couple of your coupons would help.

    Does she live near you? If so, a couple of invites to dinner?

    I agree with the rest - what a thoughtful thing!

  23. crazyliblady Says:

    Does she like need food or health supplements? If so, you could order stuff for her from drugstore dot com or vitacost dot com. If you spend a certain amount, shipping is free.

  24. baselle Says:

    Here's thought - do have a collection of finished or near finished Buy x and the next one's free punch cards for places that she can get to?

  25. IndianGal Says:

    You are an awesome sister. I have nothing to add to the previous comments. I really like the idea of the gas card. Good luck to her!

  26. rachel021406 Says:

    I agree with the others and say the gas card would be helpful.
    I know you did some bodywashes but you might consider a Peppermint/Rosemary bodywash or body scrub. You could probably make one, but Bath and Body Works also has a wonderful one that sometimes helps me through my roughest days. I always come out of the tub feeling a little bit more encouraged and relaxed.

  27. ThriftoRama Says:

    Thanks for all the great ideas guys. I think I'm on the right track. I talked to my mom about it, and we are coordinating. She is getting her some restaurant cards and cat food, and I am doing the above, plus gas and grocery cards. I have a giant laundry basket almost full of basics. Just have to fill in odds and ends.

  28. crazyliblady Says:

    I know this is not related to your question, but has she considered doing temp work (like for a temporary service or substitute teaching) for the days when she will not be working? Doing errands for other people? Anything to make up for lost income would help. Also, donating plasma will sometimes get about $20 or so. If she orders stuff online, she could establish a membership at mrrebates dot com in order to get good rebates on purchases. It has helped me to pay off some credit card debt.

  29. Baby_nurse Says:

    I may have missed it, but what about grocery store gift cards for things she might run out of like milk, sugar, flour etc?

  30. PatientSaver Says:

    It would seem like you can also not worry too much about having a "complete" care package and just see where her needs are as she goes along. That way, you can be sure you're not buying unneeded items.

  31. ThriftoRama Says:

    She was surprised and touched by the care package. it worked out well. Managed to fill a laundry basket with staples and round it out with two grocery/gas gift cards. The only thing she didn't want: the raisins. Who knew my sister didn't like raisins??

  32. My English Castle Says:

    Great job! Glad she liked it.

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