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Best ways to use your stimulus check

Over the past two weeks, we have all been bombarded with information about the new Stimulus bill passed by our government. In it are included several ways in which the government will provide financial assistance to those who need it the most in these unprecedented times.

There’s a whole lot of changes, and provisions in the bill, including changes on how unemployment will or should be handled in the states, and of course, the much-needed $1,200 per adult one-time check. Of course, the whole point of the check (and the bill in general) is to infuse the country’s economy in a time when many have lost their jobs, had their hours cut, or had to close their small businesses by COVID-19, because they are not deemed essential.

However, I believe many are probably wondering how to best use those funds. This money might seem like an “extra” or a “bonus”, but it is far from that. In reality, the stimulus checks will, in a way, replace whatever income has been lost, even if on a limited basis. The problem I see with the way the stimulus check has been portrayed is that it could make many think that they are supposed to go ahead and spend it all in whatever way strikes their fancy just so they can “boost” the economy. That is far from the truth.

Overspending on unessential stuff is at the core of most Americans’ financial struggles. A lack of budget, along with rapid increase of prices on everything, no competitive pay, plus a living-above-your-means culture have made most people’s personal finances have been the deadly combination that has put most of us in a position where missing even just one single paycheck could result in financial disaster.

So, here are my humble 2 cents on how you could use that money to boost the economy, put yourself and your family in a better financial situation, and avoid the pitfall that bad money decisions usually are.

Best ways to use your stimulus check

Pay your bills

I know that many banks, car dealerships, and even cellphone companies are doing everything they can to get us to put our mortgage payments, and even rent payments on hold, or offering no payment deals for the next 3-6 months, as a way to “help” us. In reality, most (if not all) of those “deals” have a flip side: you might be charged for the “forgiven payments” later on, one way or another.

It is easy to fall prey of these incentives, but please for the love of all that’s dear, do not fall back on paying your bills, not even your mortgage, unless you have no choice. And do not, I repeat, do not go into more debt. I think it’d be better if we left that can of worms unopened.

Instead, use the stimulus check to keep as up to date on your bills as you possibly can. Believe it or not, that is a way to boost our economy. Think about it. If you (and nobody else) pays their internet, cellphone, mortgage, water, gas, etc. how would those companies stay afloat during AND after the pandemic? That could result in raised costs. Or worse, those companies could either cut their payroll or go under, resulting in lots of people losing their jobs.

Also, you definitely don’t want to face the struggle of having a stack of past-due bills for all your utilities. If you are currently struggling to keep up, think about how much worse that will be if instead of owing $100 to the gas company, you owe them $400+.

Save

Yes, you should boost the economy in any way you can. However, none of us actually knows when the country will be completely out of the woods, or when (or if) we’ll be back to normal, despite what some might led us to think.

So, stockpile cash as much as possible. After you have covered your regular bills, make sure you are saving as much as possible. Save some on your back account, but also always have some cash on hand. I know that banks generally make people feel safer about their money, but it is always good practice to keep a good stash of cash at home. We actually have a small safe at home, where we keep car titles, and other important documents, and also a bit of cash.

Buy local

We have all bought into the convenience of big corporations. It’s easy to see why. There’s a Walmart, Target, Costco, etc. pretty much everywhere, and they offer so many options!

However, those huge corporations are at a way smaller risk of going under than your local mom-and-pop market. Those are the places that have most likely been impacted by the state of our economy, and those are the people that will need that boost the most. On a somewhat indirect way, when shopping at big grocery stores like Safeway, Winco, Fred Meyer, etc. look for the “Local” signs on their produce section. That way you know that the product came from your local farms, and that means your local farmer will benefit too.

Shop small businesses

Along the same lines as buying local, you should try your very best to put your money where it’s much needed: small businesses. While some have been deemed not essential, like hair salons, barbers, nail salons, etc. there are a number of places that could really use your help. Some stores have had to close, but if there’s one small, local shop with online order/shipping available, go to them now, instead of ordering from Amazon. Don’t get me wrong. I am a huge Amazon customer, and have been for many years. However, they will not hurt for money, whereas your local shop or bookstore can hardly say the same.

After the stay-at-home order, when things are back to a somewhat-normal status, make this your top priority. Need your nails or hair done? Go to the neighborhood girl who will most likely be trying really hard to get her business off the ground (again). Want to go out to eat? Go to local restaurants, instead of the big chain corps. Trust me. That’s where the stimulus money will be needed the most.

Best ways to use your stimulus check

Wrapping it all up

Making good use of any and all of our resources is extremely important. But deciding how to use our extras (like our tax refund, or the newly approved stimulus check) can feel a bit disconnected. This is mainly because it is not part of our usual income. That can make them feel like bonuses, to be used in any way we want.

If you got scroll-happy, and didn’t read the whole post, here is a list of the best, and more responsible ways to use your stimulus check:

  1. Pay your bills
  2. Save
  3. Buy local
  4. Shop small businesses

In short, make it your goal to not overspend on frivolous and unnecessary things. That should always be your goal. If you have any hope to stay on budget, no matter how much money you make. But it is especially important to be mindful of how we spend our money now. We can’t control what the future brings. What we can control is how prepared we are so we don’t find ourselves on the same boat again.

Now tell me, are you getting a stimulus check? If so, what are your plans for the money when you finally get it? Please, share with us in the comment section below. Inquiring minds want to know!

Stay home, stay sane, and stay healthy. And above all, be kind to yourself, and to one another.

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