In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government recently passed a stimulus package that would provide financial assistance to individuals across the country. Eligible individuals can receive up to $1,200 with the possibility of more depending on the number of adults and children in your household. You can find more information about eligibility requirements: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/economic-impact-payments-what-you-need-to-know
While this can help provide relief to many individuals, we urge you to not depend on this money if possible. Some folks have already received their payment via direct deposit earlier this month, but we need to be prepared in case, for whatever reason, that the stimulus checks don’t come. Here are some things you can do to prepare in case the check doesn’t come, or what you can do with the check if it does come:
- Create an emergency budget. If you don’t already have a budget, now is the time to create one. We may have to stay at home for longer than we anticipated, so now is the time to start cutting expenses and saving where we can. We don’t want to put ourselves in the position of not having anything in a few weeks or months.
- Start (or add to) your emergency savings / “what if” fund. If you don’t have a fund to save for unexpected/crisis expenses, now is a good time to start one. Use all or part of the stimulus check to put toward savings. We don’t know how long this virus will last, so it’s good to start saving now in case the shelter-in-place orders go on longer than anticipated.
- Talk to your creditors and bill collectors, then pay the bills that are priorities. As this is a global pandemic, many companies understand that people are struggling with paying their bills in full and on time. First contact the companies you know you will have trouble paying on time. This can include your landlord or mortgage company, utilities, and loan companies. Most will be very willing to work with you, whether it may be deferring your payments or putting you on a payment plan that works for your situation. Once you’ve contacted all of them and figured how that affects your finances, pay the bills that are priorities, such as rent/mortgage and utilities.
Make sure you have a plan with what you will do with the stimulus check before it comes. While we wait until it comes, act and operate as if it won’t come. That way, you’ll be prepared for any “what ifs”.
Sara Middendorf, Program Manager for St. Louis Builds Credit