Millions of Americans have already begun to receive their stimulus checks via direct deposit as a result of the CARES Act signed into law on March 27, 2020. While others are routinely checking the status of their payment, and making plans for how they’re going to spend their money.
If you’re not familiar with how the stimulus checks work, or how much you’re going to get, let me break it down for you.
American taxpayers are eligible for a one-time check of up to $1,200, while married couples are eligible to receive up to $2,400. This number can be larger for those who have children under the age of 17, which will grant them an additional $500 per child.
There are, of course, income limits to ensure the government is giving the money to the people who need it most. That means an individual can make up to $75,000 and be eligible for the full $1,200, and a married couple can make up to $150,000 before their checks are affected. To see how much you can expect, you can use this stimulus check calculator.
The purpose of giving American taxpayers stimulus checks is to stimulate the economy. Meaning, the government is giving away spending money for citizens to invest back into the economy. That being said, there are no rules that dictate where or how the money needs to be spent. Everyone’s economic situation is different, and priorities are likely to change from person to person.
If you’re unsure of the best way to utilize your stimulus check, take a look at the ideas below to help you make the best use of your stimulus money.
Groceries and Household Items
If you are in dire need of this economic assistance and your income has become limited, restricted, or even cut off, it might be best to purchase some essentials for your household.
Consider buying essentials like canned goods, cleaning products, and other items that have a bit of a shelf life, so you and your family do not go hungry.
If you work for an essential business and have a steady income, now might be the time to reinvest that money into your home. Home projects can be costly, but with this additional income, you might be able to replace some of your appliances or put it towards a small renovation project.
Many contractors are looking for work to remain in business, and you could save money by hiring them now.
This is also a great way to help keep small businesses afloat and build up your local economy.
Again, for those working for essential businesses or that have a sizable safety net in savings, now might be a good time to look at investing in the stock market. With the market facing extreme circumstances, and the current impact on many large companies unknown, this could be an excellent time to look into buying stocks for long term investments for little risk.
With shares being at lows unseen since before 2008, you can reinvest your stimulus package and hold on to it in hopes of a nice return when the economy returns to normal. Our advice is to make sure you do your research or consult with a financial advisor before investing or making any trades.
If you are uncertain about the future of your job, assuming you are still able to work, it might be a good idea to hold onto the cash. Many companies are facing economic challenges and are reducing headcount to try and keep their operation running.
The extra money in savings could help you stay afloat until you can find a new job should this happen to you.
Many restaurants are getting creative in takeout options and offering deals for customers to support them during these difficult times. Putting some of your stimulus money into your community by treating your family to a nice takeout meal once or twice a month might help make you all forget about quarantine for a night.
It will also go a long way in helping keep your local restaurants running and their staff employed.
Pay off Debt
This extra money could help reduce interest if you have a high credit card balance. It could be applied to pay off principle for a car loan or any other loan you might be trying to pay down faster.
Another source of debt is student loans, and with interest currently on hold until September, this money could be directly applied to the principle and help drive your total loan balance down before interest rates return.
It’s never too early to plan for retirement. If you are not currently putting money into a retirement account like a 401k or an IRA of some sort, now might be the time if you can afford to do so.
Making consistent contributions will grow your balance and accrue a lot of interest so you can live comfortably after putting in decades of hard work. This money can help you reach your annual contribution limits faster, which means you earn more interest.
There is a lot of unknown when it comes to the future of the world, and the lasting impact COVID-19 will have on society and the economy. The experiences we undergo during this time should serve as a lesson of what to do or not do to prepare for a secure financial future.
With the money you receive, it’s reasonable to believe you might be able to do a few of the items on our list and still have something left over to enjoy with your family or friends.
Make the most of your time now while you can, who knows, maybe in a few weeks you’ll find yourself missing quarantine because everyone will have Friday night plans again.