This morning, millions of Americans checked their bank account, and this morning, millions of Americans were thrilled to find their stimulus money direct deposited. Now, the question is, what will you do with your stimulus money? Should you rush out and buy stuff? Spend it on necessities? Pay bills? Save it? Before you rush out to your local big box store for those “essentials,” think long and hard about what you’re buying and where you’re spending that money!
First and foremost, don’t spend it foolishly! Even though this may be “extra” money to those of you still working during this pandemic, you may want to consider putting your stimulus money into savings. Why? Because, unless you are an essential worker, and in most cases, even if you are an essential worker, the economy is going to get a lot worse before it gets better! Contrary to what the “experts” have been telling us, things are not just going to go BOOM when smaller, nonessential businesses are allowed to re-open. In fact, we are apt to see more layoffs before we see rehires. So, whatever you do, don’t go out and spend your money without thinking about the future.
Secondly, if you’re currently laid off, are you receiving unemployment? If not, paying bills will most likely be your best option. The question is, what should you pay? Obviously, basic necessities first – food, utilities, housing, etc. But what else should you pay? If you can afford to do so, keep paying ALL of your bills! I know that it’s tempting to use the grace periods that banks, lenders, utility companies, and credit card providers are offering right now, but unless you absolutely have to, don’t skip payments! Pay the bare minimum, but don’t make the mistake of not paying if you can afford to do so. Why? Because when we come out on the other side of this pandemic, it’s going to matter. You’re going to have to pay these bills then, and you’re likely to be expected to pay them all at once, so if you can, pay now. (Besides, we already know what late payments do to your credit score, don’t we?)
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, if you can afford to spend your stimulus money, consider spending it at the SMALL businesses in your local economy. That’s right, spend it with those businesses that have been forced to close because they aren’t “essential.” Get take-out from the restaurant that isn’t a big chain, buy gift cards from the smaller, specialty retailers in your town, or even use your check to do some good – buy groceries for someone who is laid off and can’t get unemployment, drop off meals to a few self-quarantined senior citizens, or donate some PPE to your local hospital. Whatever you do, think local. Think small. Buy American. That’s the only way to save this economy.