On March 26 the White House signed a $2 trillion stimulus package to help Americans affected by COVID-19. The package gives $1,200 to every American adult with an adjusted gross income (AGI) less than $75,000 per year and $500 for every child, with reduced payments for individuals with an AGI between $75,000 and $99,000 and couples with an AGI between $150,000 and $198,000. EFT payments will be deposited around April 15, and paper checks will be mailed over the coming months.
Though you may have a job now, the long-term effects of this virus have yet to be seen. The economic results of this virus are still very much in the air, and it could take months or even years before we fully realize the impact that it has made.
So if you are lucky enough that you still have a job and have been able to continue working, how should you spend your money?
Invest in a backup career
If you don’t have a laptop or an internet connection, use some of your stimulus money to purchase these items and use them to start working towards a new career, ideally one you can work at from home.
If you have a specialty in an industry or even a hobby that you love, you may be surprised to find that companies are willing to pay you to write blog posts and how-to articles about those industries.
However, if writing isn’t your cup of tea, consider taking low-cost online courses from providers such as Udemy. Right now Udemy is offering courses in:
- Web Development
- Data Science
- App Development
- Many different programming languages
- IT Certification
- Graphic design
- Digital Marketing
- and many, many more
YouTube, Coursera, and edX are a few other websites offering free or very low-cost learning. Even if you don’t end up losing your job, you’ll have another skill to add to your resume and more flexibility for the future.
If you’re absolutely sure you don’t need to save the money you receive, go ahead and spend it. But help out your local businesses instead of spending money online. Many restaurants and bars are still serving food through takeout or drive-through options, and infusing the local economy with cash will help keep businesses afloat as they try to navigate this new normal and care for their employees.
Buying gift certificates to give as gifts later is another option for supporting local businesses. Since many stores are offering curbside service or free delivery, you could also purchase home improvement items from local businesses to work on projects around your house and yard. You’re not going anywhere for awhile, so you may as well get some to-do items crossed off your list!
Help a neighbor
We all have friends or neighbors who have lost their jobs and are faced with the uncertain future of providing for their families. Help them out with grocery store gift certificates, donating food, or even giving them money. Giving gifts of food or cash to local food pantries is also a great way to help those in need and make sure your donation goes to those who need it most in your area.
The coronavirus has had far-reaching effects, and it remains to be seen how our economy will recover. Making wise use of your stimulus money will ensure you and your community are positioned well to weather the storm. If you are in a great place financially, count your blessings and help your neighbors who might be struggling.