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Federal workers resort to selling furniture to stay afloat

Wednesday - 10/9/2013, 3:49pm  ET

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Cynthia Brown displays her government ID at her Waldorf home. She is worried about being able to cover her bills without a regular paycheck during the shutdown. (WTOP/John Aaron)
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WALDORF, Md. - Cynthia Brown is looking for ways to pay her bills including selling her bedroom set and taking an extra job.

The mother of two is still reporting to work at the Government Printing Office, but she isn't getting paid for it.

Many federal workers like Brown can only count on one more paycheck. Money from the shortened pay period from before the shutdown is set to arrive Friday.

Brown has her bills laid out on the kitchen table of the Waldorf townhome she rents. Because of a health issue, she was already dealing with financial problems before the shutdown.

"Everything was getting caught up," she says. "I saw the end in sight, but now that's just been ruined."

She says she has been working with creditors, who are aware of her situation. But she knows their patience is limited.

"You don't even know when to tell them they'll have their money," she says.

A car payment is due Oct. 15. A water cutoff is scheduled for Oct. 16. A gas and electric cutoff is coming.

To help bridge the gap, Brown is selling some of her furniture on Craigslist.com, and is considering part-time positions. She's also asked for help from food pantries and social services.

Meanwhile, she says morale at work is suffering.

"People are getting upset. It's very hard to stay strong and do your job knowing that you don't know when you're going to get paid for what you're doing."

"Even though we're getting retroactive pay, these bills are due now," she adds.

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