It’s tempting to think about all of the ways you could spend an extra $1,200 or $2,400 – depending your filing status and the number of dependents you claim. Before you get that list finalized, we want to give you some tips to help your money stretch as far as possible.
Prioritize. Look at your bills. Which ones are essential (rent or mortgage, car payment, utilities), and what bills are non-essential (entertainment, streaming services, unusable memberships)? Make a list of what you need and what you can live without. Focus on paying the essential bills first.
Save. Save. Save. Don’t miss an opportunity to pad your savings account with some of your stimulus money. It’s a one-time payment, so think of your stimulus as a mini emergency fund. You may want to set aside some of the payment as “just in case” money.
Divide and Conquer. You only get one stimulus payment, but your bills will still come monthly. If you’re currently unemployed, it’s especially important to be strategic in how you spend your stimulus payment. Take this opportunity to divide it up into smaller chunks to help cover some of the essential bills you pay each month. Also, talk to your landlord or mortgage lender, your utility company and internet service provider, if you’re having trouble meeting your monthly obligations. Many companies are finding ways to help their customers defer payments during this unprecedented situation.
Don’t Hoard Cash. Hoarding cash is a bad idea in general. Your money is much safer at your financial institution than it is in your home. So, bring it to us and let us safeguard it for when you need it!*
Pay Down Debt. Paying off debt is almost never a bad financial move, but think about it and prioritize carefully. Even in these uncertain times, paying off any highest interest debt isn’t a bad idea. However, don’t feel like you need to be in a hurry to spend all your stimulus money to pay off debt. Look at your options for forbearance, payment deferrals, or even the option to skip a monthly payment. If you can get some relief on your debt in the coming months, let your stimulus payment sit in your savings account.
Splurge Smartly. We’re all feeling the weight of stress and uncertainty as we wonder when this pandemic will end, and life will return to normal. No matter how you decide to spend your stimulus check, see if you can set aside a little bit to spend on something fun for yourself. Maybe even shop at some of your favorite local businesses to offer support. Remember: the government is hoping these stimulus payments will put some cash flow back into the economy to stimulate it.
Over the past couple of months, we’ve faced a situation no one could’ve possibly prepared for. We know that our members have been affected in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the stimulus payments will certainly help and offer some relief to most, please know that First Financial is here for you. We want to help you stretch your stimulus payment as far as can go. Give us a call and let us figure out a way to help you!
*A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account. All personal memberships are part of the Rewards First program and a $5 per month non-participation fee is charged to the base savings account for memberships not meeting the minimum requirements of the program. Click here to view full Rewards First program details. First Financial membership is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties in NJ.