TAMPA BAY - The government shutdown is hurting, or at least inconveniencing millions of American families, but experts say the threat by Congress not to increase the debt ceiling later this week would cause so much damage, we'd all be affected.
You can put a frowny face on your calendar for Thursday October 17. That's the deadline after which the U.S. will need to borrow more money to pay our bills. If Congress doesn't grant the Treasury the right to do that, money for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans benefits could be delayed or cut off.
And predicted stock losses could shrink savings for millions if an agreement isn't reached soon.
"The effects, none of them are good are potentially extremely significant" said John Kiernan of the personal finance firm WalletHub.
Kiernan sees a domino effect where the debt limit crisis causes interest rates to spike for home and car purchases, credit cards and student loans. All that extra interest represents money that will not be spent at restaurants or at the mall.
"Less money that we have in our wallets, less money going back into the economy and it just kind of spirals that way" says Kiernan.
President Barack Obama lays the blame with the Republican Congress he claims are putting their partisan priorities over the welfare of the country.
Republicans accuses the President of using scare tactics.
"I think this is the 11th time I've been through this discussion the sky is falling" complained Republicans Senator, Mike Enzi of Wyoming.
No one is forecasting falling skies, but even international economists like Olivier Blanchard of the International Monetary Fund predicts dire consequences.
"What is now a recovery would turn into a recession or even worse."
How can you protect yourself from all this? John Kiernan of WalletHub.com suggests applying for credit now if you think your income could be affected by this crisis. It might also be smart to consolidate any high or variable interest debt you might have into one fixed rate loan.