By Jennifer Bridge
You may have gotten or soon will be receiving an economic impact payment or so-called “stimulus check” that is the result of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. These payments are meant to help offset the financial hardships for individuals and families caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Carefully consider what to do with this money before spending it. Here are some ideas to help you get the most from your stimulus check. 1. Take care of the basics. If you have lost your job or have been laid off as a result of COVID-19, you may be struggling to take care of your basic needs, such as food, medicine and utilities. This money is intended to help you do that. If you are struggling, spend it on those items. 2. Get up-to-date on your bills. If you have fallen behind on your debts, you can use the stimulus as a chance to get caught up on those payments. Make sure you prioritize your debts in order of the most urgent payments. The CARES Act included additional relief options for certain payments, such as federally backed mortgages and student loans. You can contact your lender to find out what your options are. 3. Build an emergency fund. If you are able to meet all of your debt obligations and provide for your family’s basic needs, consider saving the money in an emergency fund. Just because you do not need the money right now does not mean that you will never need it in the future. An emergency fund can help you cover those unexpected expenses such as car repairs or major appliance purchases as they occur down the road. 4. Spend it wisely. If you decide to spend your stimulus check, make sure your purchase is a wise one, such as a home improvement, which could increase the value of your home or job training or education that can help increase your income in the future. 5. Invest it. Make your stimulus money grow for your and your family’s future by investing it. There are many different types of investments you can consider, including 529 college saving plans, traditional and Roth IRAs, certificates of deposit, stocks, bonds etc. You can find out more about these investment options online or by contacting your banker or financial advisor. If you are interested in learning more about financial management stop by the extension office foyer to pick up a money management packet which contains some great guides to help you determine how to best spend your hard earned money. Additional information on family financial education topics is available by contacting the office at 270-422-4958 or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org Source: Kelly May, senior extension associate for family finance and resource management Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.