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Spend Your Stimulus Check Wittingly
April 21, 2020

Spend Your Stimulus Check Wittingly

Written By: Jared Herzog

Spend Your Stimulus Check Wittingly title image

The average working American’s salary is $48,672 as of the 4th quarter in 2019[1]. Household income hovers around the 63k mark (2018)[2] as pre-corona unemployment sat at roughly 3.6%[3].

Compared with other developed countries, that’s not bad. The US has the 4th highest annual wage in the world as of 2017 [4].

So, it is stirring to see US citizens enduring hours-long food bank lines and even weeks-long lines for unemployment. We see the Fed scramble to keep its citizens and their business afloat until economic reopening.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) act is sending most Americans 1.2K, and $500 for each child. For many, it’s a lifeline—others, not enough. For a few, it’s superfluous.

Regardless of circumstance, you ought to spend that money wisely—or charitably. In that effort, we offer commonsense suggestions for spending your stimulus check. The 4th is our favorite.

First, cover the essentials

You don’t need Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to know that basic food and shelter should be covered before most else. But don’t forget to make sure to keep the lights on, too. The ability to keep the TV talking, the fridge humming, and the phones charged will keep the mind (and the family) much happier than without. Many municipalities have suspended late fees and power cuts due to non-payments. And this may not be the only way your city offers help. Find out what your district may doing for you on their .gov website. We’ve heard of some even offering free internet.

Save it—don’t pay it

If you’re not one of the 51% of Americans that plan on using their relief check to pay bills and keep the pantry stocked, consider it part of your emergency fund. You wouldn’t want to be stuck without it in case of a sudden mishap (what if your car breaks down?).

In other words, if your debt can wait, let it wait.

Federal student loan payments have been suspended until September and numerous banks offer temporary relief to their debtors. Even the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has suspended all foreclosures and evictions through April.

However, don’t withhold paying debt that still accrues interest, charges you late fees or puts you in financial danger. We only suggest taking advantage of certain relief programs that lenders now offer to customers. Obviously, it’s best to give them a call and make the best decision.

Invest

Equites are pretty cheap right now. If you’ve got the aptitude to invest, or you’re young and would like to get your feet wet, it may be a good time. Of course, the best way to start is to play the long game by betting on diversified low-cost mix of index funds. This is how you can keep your risk hedged and your returns increasing year over year. Of course, be sure to not pull out in times of volatility, keep adding, and rebalance as necessary. Come to think of it, we know a pretty great place to start.

Give

A mere 3% of Americans plan on donating their stimulus bill. We know most US residents live paycheck-to-paycheck and may be unable to help their fellow Americans. But, if you can, there’s no better feeling than knowing you’ve helped someone when they truly needed it. Be on the lookout. A friend of yours who might need it may be too humble to ask. Contact church officials to see if anyone has reached out to them. You can also support medical needs, vulnerable populations and nonprofits. Either way, there are endless ways to make someone’s year.

The stimulus check may not be a lifesaver. But using it wisely could be the very thing you (or someone else) needed most.

Listen to our recent “Keep it Simple” podcast episode on the CARES act for a more in-depth perspective.


Sources

  1. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/wkyeng.pdf
  2. https://wallethacks.com/average-median-income-in-america/
  3. https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2019/unemployment-rate-unchanged-at-3-point-6-percent-in-may-2019.htm?view_full
  4. https://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=AV_AN_WAGE

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