No matter how you feel about the current political situation, you can learn something by putting yourself in the shoes of the federal employees and going without a paycheck for a while.

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When it comes to most people’s finances, there’s not much that separates a situation from a real problem, an emergency or a disaster.

The 800,000-plus federal workers currently going without paychecks are walking that fine line now.

The longer they have to go without pay, the further they go up the danger scale.

And while a study looking at the effects a 16-day government shutdown had on workers in Oct. 2013 showed a minimal impact on the financial status of the employees, there is little doubt that going without a paycheck takes first an emotional toll and then starts to inflict financial pain.

With the government shutdown now in its second week — and with a 2017 Federal Reserve report showing that 40 percent of American adults could not produce $400 in an emergency without sliding into debt or selling something — there is little doubt that each day pushes more unpaid workers from simply having a situation to where they have a real crisis on their hands.

Most people are not prepared for these situations, and it’s not just because they lack significant emergency funds to tide them through trouble, it’s because they have never experienced the problem.

Thus, you should experience it.

No matter how you feel about the current political situation, you can learn something by putting yourself in the shoes of the federal employees and going without a paycheck for a while.

[Related: As federal shutdown continues, Sea-Tac Airport workers lose sleep and apply for loans]

Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they live paycheck-to-paycheck, but few ever see just how true that is.

Taking your paycheck out of the mix stress-tests your financial life against layoffs, furloughs and other unexpected financial emergencies, helping you come up with a plan that will ensure that you are prepared in case a real disaster ever strikes.

It’s worth noting that the five economists who studied the 2013 government shutdown — authoring How Individuals Respond to a Liquidity Shock: Evidence from the 2013 Government Shutdown, released in 2015 by the National Bureau of Economic Research — noted that the sudden loss of expected cash has an effect on workers living paycheck-to-paycheck, the actual impact was muted because workers ultimately got their money.

At the end of every government shutdown in recent memory — and there have been plenty of them, though most last only a short time — Congress passes legislation to pay the salaries of federal workers who went unpaid.

A delayed paycheck is inconvenient; the longer the delay, the bigger the pain. Actual missed pay — where the money is gone for good — is where the damage can have long-lasting effects.

By giving up your paycheck, you get to see just how long it takes for you to feel the pinch, and to see when your mind kicks into panic mode.

If you can’t miss a pay period without feeling squeezed or increasing your credit-card debt, you need to get a handle on where the money is going, and change habits so that long-term financial discomfort is not inevitable.

While you are putting your check on ice — use this test to jump-start your emergency fund if you don’t have one — consider the following questions:

Are my resources sufficient to weather real problems that last longer than this test?

Unlike the government employees, you can end the test at any moment.

But if delaying a single paycheck or two makes you tapped out, you don’t have sufficient reserves. Seeing how quickly you exhaust those resources should give you an idea of how much you will need in case of emergency.

How do I avoid the problem?

The answer is easy — increase your savings — but the task is hard.

Examine your habits to see what you can change. Find ways to squirrel away bits of money — even if it’s just a few bucks each week — and let time work for you. Set aside your pocket change. Never spend a $5 bill. Use a savings app on your smartphone.

Look for something painless that works now, and you can avoid the real pains later.

If I can survive without one check, can I increase my savings in real life?

If you worry about your finances, this is the way you reduce your worries. You may still feel like you are living paycheck-to-paycheck, but if more money is flowing into your retirement-savings account or being set-aside, you are building not just a war chest against job loss, you are growing your assets.

What could I do without, financially speaking, before damaging my quality of life?

In the event of a real job loss, it helps to know in advance which expenses get a spot in your financial lifeboat.

Review where your money is going; tally up all bills due, plus all regular expenses; without money coming in, a consumer must reconsider everything they are paying for.

That tracking of spending should leave behind a list that can be broken into priorities, necessities and niceties. Examine that list to see what you would cut if you went without pay for 7 days, 30 days, 60 days and so on. Look for ways to save money, cut expenses and improve your standing. Utility bills must be paid, for example, but you might save money by bundling services, cutting usage and more.

That’s an easy first cut; eliminating services altogether comes only after a crisis has lingered.

Don’t just look at your spending, consider how you pay the bills, and what you would do to maintain a good credit rating even at a time of financial stress. You will want to pay bills on time, but might consider paying just the minimum; don’t be afraid to call creditors to set it up so that your heaviest bills at not all due at the same time of the month, making it easier for you to weather small storms.