By: Mike Cashion, MFF Director of Operations
Households across the United States have or will see stimulus checks or deposits ranging from $1,200 to $2,400+. As people see these funds hit their accounts, we wanted to share some thoughts on ways that you could put your stimulus money to work.
Broadly speaking, there are two different camps that households fall into. We want to speak to both. The first includes those households that currently have limited funds coming in through unemployment. The second includes those that are still working with little if any change in income.
Are you in a household that is currently not working, bringing in limited funds through unemployment and/or stretched for cash?
Believe me, you are not alone here. Millions of Americans are in the same situation. It is really important to put on the brakes before spending the stimulus money. If you have not already gone through all of your current expenses and prioritized what is most important, this is your first step. Start by reducing where possible and eliminating unneccesary expenses. Then figure out where the shortfall is in your budget after prioritizing the important expenses that remain.
Brew yourself a warm cup of coffee and call all of the providers for the remaining expenses. Learn about what options you may have to stretch every dollar. Many companies have a variety of options to help their customers through the pandemic. It could be negotiating the interest rate, deferring payments, changing the level of service, or coming up with a reduced payment schedule for the next 6-12 months. Make sure you are leveraging every assistance program that is available. Companies everywhere have set up ways to assist their customers. Even if they have not, call them. Don’t be afraid to ask and learn what they are willing to do before paying anything.
Are you in a household that is still working and has had little to no change in income?
Truthfully, you should be mindful and remain cautious, as no job is secure. At the same time, there are numerous ways to leverage your stimulus to your benefit. Start thinking about how you can spend this money strategically. Not only will it help the local economy and struggling businesses, but you stand to benefit from some serious discounts.
Take a look at your current recurring expenses. Are their options to pay annually or semi-annually? If there is a discount for paying up front, you could keep the same level of service and save a bunch of money. Not sure? Call the company and ask them.
Retailers are trying to move products, and shift to pickup, online shopping and delivery in an aggressive manner. They are also trying to retain customers and generate every bit of revenue that they can. If there is something you could really use but have been putting off the expense, sign up for newsletters with retailers that sell the product. Right now, the deals and discounts are CRAZY!
The economic fallout from the pandemic could be lengthy. Do not spend the money just for the sake of spending it. If nothing else, it is a great addition to your emergency fund. Set it aside and beef up your emergency fund for a rainy day.
It is great that we are getting some help from the government. If you feel the need to spend the money right away, evaluate where you are at. Remember that no job is safe. Look to the future, make a plan and sleep on it. Then you can take comfort knowing that you made a good purchase decision.