Thursday, February 7, 2013

Vacation Furlough

Vacations have always been important to me, and I am so fortunate to have a job that includes so much vacation time.  I value any time spent with my little girl, but especially when we can take a road trip or hit an amusement park and add to our roller coaster inventory. We really enjoy doing these things together, and I make plans to take at least two big trips every year, with a bunch of smaller long-weekend trips thrown in throughout the year, too.

A few months ago, I started looking at taking a big Disney World vacation, including staying at a resort and going to all of the parks there in Orlando.  Whew, was I ever blown away by the cost!  I can't believe there are families that do this every year!  But, I figured, this was a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and would be worth it.  So I began making arrangements.  Then it all fell apart.

Working for the Federal Government is as stable a job as one can get, with a nice salary and very good benefits, including healthcare and retirement.  I am really fortunate to have such a job, and it has been a wonderful career for me.  The only downside is the periodic uncertainty that surrounds us when our elected officials can't agree on a budget, and we Feds become pawns in their little games.  It is, frankly, stupid.  It's not our fault that our President and the folks on Capitol Hill can't get their act in gear, but they take their fights out on us, threatening us with multiple years without a pay raise or cost of living adjustments, and toying with our retirement and Social Security benefits.  Politics aside, it is ridiculous that we go through this every year, it seems.

Things are really bad this year, and now there is talk of a furlough.  I've been in the government now for over 20 years, and I've only experienced one furlough with no loss in pay.  This year, there is talk of a 20+ day furlough, averaging one day "off" per week for the rest of the year, and no chance of getting back pay, all a result of our elected officials not being able to do the job they are elected to do!  If this becomes a reality, and each day it looks more and more likely, many of my employees could experience quite a hardship, losing approximately 20% of their take-home salary.  Looking ahead, this means that any frivolous spending should be kept in check, including big vacations.  See where this is going?

It would make sense for me to call it quits on our big Disney World vacation because of this uncertainty.  If nothing else, I will at least put it on hold until we know exactly what's going to happen, and maybe plan it for the Fall.  Either way, I have not mentioned anything to my daughter as of yet.  I wanted the trip to be a surprise, and now I'm glad I didn't say anything.  She would be really disappointed!

So now it's time for Plan B.  What should we do for Spring Break now?  Maybe a nice little inexpensive road trip?  Maybe a local amusement park (Hershey Park or Busch Gardens)?  Maybe we should just stay home?  Maybe a service project through our church?  The sky's the limit, I guess.  And I'll count my blessings that I even have a job with the opportunity to take a vacation.  Things could be so much worse, of course.  Thank the Lord for His blessings!

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