For Williams, relying on family wasn't a viable option. Her parents are also federal employees and were affected by the shutdown. Luckily, she says, her mom's agency had enough funding to push her furlough date back. But, that still meant her parents were living off one income.
"They were trying to help me out a little bit, but it couldn't be much because my mom was the only one working," she says. "But even she was unsure, because she was only funded up until a certain date."
To ease the burden while furloughed or working without pay, 33 percent of federal employees took on temporary/gig work, according to Prudential. One of those employees was Williams, who says she searched online for side work, but found very few open positions that gave her the flexibility she needed as a parent. She says she turned to a familiar hobby to see if she could make some money.
"I was making myself a wig and I posted it on Instagram," she says. "Then people started hitting my inbox saying , 'This looks good. How much do you charge? Can you make me one?'" Williams says she started accepting orders. She made six wigs over the course of three weeks and earned a profit of a little over $600.
"It has definitely turned into a full side hustle," she says.
Though Williams says she has received her back pay, the threat of another shutdown in the future is still scary. To prepare, she says she's being extra cautious about spending and setting aside extra time to build her side hustle.
"At one point, I felt like everybody wanted to work for the government because it was so secure," she says. "But now, it's creating that second thought in your head like, 'It's always good to have another job just in case.'"
Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!
Canceling autopay, skipping the doctor, selling a car: Federal workers share how they're making ends meet during the shutdown