Government stimulus checks can feel like anything from some fun money to a way to put food on the table. If you’re somewhere in between, you might be wondering how to best use those dollars.
Here are some ways you can make the most of your stimulus check.
Pay Outstanding Bills
After taking care of immediate needs, paying any outstanding bills should be first on your list. Focus on areas that most directly affect your credit rating such as utilities, cable or phone bills.
The same legislation providing the current round of stimulus checks has provisions for other financial relief. Check to see if you qualify for local, state or federal assistance. Also, contact your service providers and see if they are offering any sort of relief during the pandemic.
Let this research help you determine how you pay any outstanding bills and ensure that you aren’t paying more than necessary.
Paying down credit card or loan balances is a good way to relieve some of the pressure on your financial health. High credit card balances are not good for your credit rating. Paying down the principal on any sort of debt can help reduce your interest payments over time.
Save, Save, Save
If you don’t need the stimulus money to cover immediate needs, there are good reasons to save it.
Regardless of the pandemic, the IRS is going to expect you to pay your taxes. This year is going to be an exceptionally complicated tax year and having some money saved can help with unexpected costs.
Start or add to an emergency fund. The pandemic is a stark example of the necessity of having some money available to use in the case of unforeseen circumstances.
Add to your retirement account if possible. These uncertain times may put many retirements in jeopardy. Do what you can to bolster your future security.
It’s okay to treat yourself with your stimulus money if you have the essentials covered. However, just be sure not to use it as a down payment on something that can add financial stress later.
Unfortunately, stimulus checks give scammers another avenue to try to steal your money and personal information so it’s important to protect yourself and monitor your credit scores. Staying on top of your credit scores and monitoring your credit report for changes can bring peace of mind, especially during these difficult times.
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