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How to budget on food stamps during government shutdown

SPOKANE, Wash. - The government shutdown is affecting numerous federal agencies, including the Department of Social and Health Services, which gives out food stamps.

If you receive food stamps, you may have already seen money deposited into your EBT account this week for the month of February. However, the government shutdown is leaving uncertainty for how much money will be available in March.

Now, DSHS is urging people on food stamps to spend their money wisely.

"A lot of people like to live in the dark with their money. They don't want to know what's going on - it's too painful," said Jay Macpherson, financial adviser at SNAP Spokane.

For Americans getting food stamps, that's not an option right now.

With the ongoing government shutdown, a lot of folks may have to go two months between benefits disbursements.

"The idea is turn the lights on. Be vulnerable. You might not like what you see," Macpherson said.

As difficult as that may be, financial advisors say it will help you greatly in the long run.

"The vigilance is going to pay off and the person it's going to pay off to is you," Macpherson said.

He said it's not that hard. Budgeting can be as easy as filling out a spreadsheet to keep track of your spending.

"$3,000 estimated coming in, $3,000 estimated coming out. That's a zero-balanced budget," Macpherson said.

Or if you're traditional, you just need paper and pen.

"Before February starts, you can sit down and make a plan - where am I going to put all this money? Where am I going to tell it where to go," Macpherson said.

The idea is that your income matches your spending.

"Hopefully, you'll have some leftover to decide where to go. But a lot of people are going to have a short fall," Macpherson said.

If your money doesn't stretch far enough, you should know there's other help in our community.

"Food stamps budget is tight, there's probably some food banks that they can take advantage. That's a tremendous resource to relieve the grocery budget." Macpherson said.

Because of the change in benefits disbursement, local food banks have seen an increase in people hoping to get food, including the Salvation Army in Spokane.

If you're interested in volunteering, you can contact the Joshua Schulz, at (509) 329-2721 or visit www.makingspokanebetter.org and click on “Volunteer in this Community.”


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