The stimulus checks promised in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act are starting to land in checking accounts and mailboxes around the country. The $1,200 granted is a welcome relief during these financially trying times.
Many recipients may be wondering: What is the best way to use this money?
To help you determine the most financially responsible course of action to take with your stimulus check, Freedom First has compiled a list of advice and tips from financial experts and advisers on how to use this money.
Cover your basic life expenses
First and foremost, make sure you can afford to cover your basic necessities. With millions of Americans out of work and lots of them still waiting for their unemployment insurance to kick in, many people are struggling to put food on their tables. Most financial experts agree that it’s best not to make any long-term plans for stimulus money until you can comfortably cover everyday expenses.
With unique spending priorities in place, an absent or diminished income and many expenses, like subscriptions and entertainment costs, not being relevant any longer, it can be helpful to reconfigure an existing budget to better suit present needs. As always, basic necessities, such as food and critical bills, should be prioritized.
Build up your emergency fund
If you’ve already got your basic needs covered, start looking at long-term targets for your stimulus money.
Emergency funds should ideally be robust enough to cover 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses. If you already have an emergency fund, it may have been depleted during the pandemic and need some replenishing. If you don’t yet have an emergency fund, or your fund isn’t large enough to cover several months without a steady income, you may want to use some of the stimulus money to build it up so you have a cushion to fall back on during lean times that are likely to come in the months ahead.
Pay down high-interest debts
Use some of your stimulus check to pay off high-interest debt. This advice only applies to credit cards and other private, high-interest loans. The federal government put a 6-month freeze on most student loan debts, so they should not be as high a priority right now.
Boost your savings
If your emergency fund is already full and you’ve made headway on your debt, it can be a good idea to use some of the stimulus money to add to your Freedom First savings account. The money in your savings can be used to cover long-term financial goals, such as covering the down payment on a new home.