- If you can pause payment on any bills, that will free up more money for groceries, medications and essential household items.
- Put aside some money for emergencies.
- Consider supporting local businesses and restaurants that are only open for delivery and takeout.
The latest on the Coronavirus stimulus checks and tax refunds
The stimulus checks and how much you receive will depend on your income. If you’re single, you could receive up to $1,200. Married couples could receive up to $2,400, and up to $500 for every child under 17. If you’re single, your adjusted annual gross income needs to be under $75,000, capping out at $99,000 to qualify. If you file jointly, total adjusted gross income needs to be under $150,000, phasing out at $198,000 to qualify. Most people are expected to receive their checks by mid-April.
Although filing your taxes is not due until July 15th due to the Coronavirus, if you will be getting a refund check, you may want to file your taxes before that date in order to receive your refund check earlier.
What is the best way to use your stimulus and/or your refund check?
First, determine if you can pause or change the payment dates for certain payments such as your mortgage/rent, credit cards, utilities, cell phone, cable, student loans, etc. by contacting your bank, landlord, cell phone company, etc. Many are offering flexible payments during this time, but you must contact them first to arrange an agreement. If you skip payments without an agreement in place, it can have a negative impact on your credit score.
Rather than applying this money towards bills that you can temporarily pause payment on, you can maximize these checks to best support your daily life. Depending on your financial situation, below are some recommendations:
- Groceries: Consider non-perishables as much as possible in case you need to self-quarantine at some point.
- Pharmaceuticals: Refill prescriptions and/or purchase OTC (over-the-counter) products.
- Support local business by purchasing gift cards: Part of the goal of the stimulus checks is to inject some of it back into your local economy, so within your means, you could also use the funds to support local businesses.
- Ordering takeout or delivery: Many restaurants are only open for delivery or takeout. You can help them stay in business and at the same time practice social distancing by ordering in.
- Set some aside for emergency expenses in case anything unexpected happens.
- Pay off small amounts of credit card debt to free up some of your credit line for emergencies.
In the meantime, Credit Sesame can be a free valuable resource to help you monitor your finances during these uncertain times.
Please let us know if you have any other tips or resources to include in the comments below. And most importantly, please stay safe and healthy.
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