The government is talking about a second round of stimulus money – is it real? What should I do with it?
Watching for Money in the Mailbox
Dear Watching for Money in the Mailbox,
You are correct; the government is discussing the passing of another stimulus package. The Republican Party offered a $1 trillion proposal while the Democrats want $4 trillion. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wants $1,200 stimulus checks to be sent in August. But don’t assume that new money is on its way; there are qualifiers. Those making less than $75,000 will qualify for the full amount, those earning above $100,000 will not qualify, and those in-between will receive less than $1,200.
Based on the timing of the first CARES Act, we can make some predictions on when checks might be sent. If the current proposal passes the Senate and the House before the August recess, the first checks could be sent out by the week of August 24. If it doesn’t pass until after the recess, the checks could be sent the week of September 28.
How to Use a Stimulus Check Wisely
Stimulus money is an unexpected windfall. It was never in your budget to begin with, so it offers lots of good options for improving your finances, if used wisely. Here are my thoughts and tips.
- Pray with a heart of gratitude and ask the Lord for wisdom. Some people will be able to give it all to those who are in need. Others will need guidance.
- Give first. Even a small portion acknowledges gratitude and dependence on the Lord.
- Put some in emergency savings: set a goal to cover 3 months of expenses, then 6 months.
- Catch up on bills. Communicate with and pay those you owe to stay current.
- Pay down debt. Negotiate terms, plan payback methods and avoid new debt.
- Make needed repairs/maintenance for auto, home, etc.
- Save. Fund accounts for car replacement, education, retirement, etc.
- Pay moving expenses for a more economical lifestyle.
Crown is privileged to partner with Christian Credit Counselors to help free individuals and families from the burden of credit card debt. Their Christ-centered values and experienced team of friendly and professional counselors make their partnership an integral part of Crown’s mission to help individuals and families. If you need a debt management plan, this is a good time to contact them for their help.
You may be in a position to invest the money in a Health Savings Account (HSA), 401(k), a Roth IRA, or Taxable Investment Account. Or, invest in yourself via classes, certifications, online degrees, an upgraded computer, or equipping a home office.
Protect yourself from scammers. Don't fall for the fake phone call from the “treasury department” needing your bank account information so they can make a transfer!
Don’t blow it in foolish ways. The government hopes that you will go out and spend the money quickly. It is better to be slow and deliberate before making a decision of what you should do with it.
Americans who are struggling should focus spending on immediate needs: housing, utilities, food and health care. Those who are at least 62 years old and are unable to make ends meet with the stimulus check may benefit from taking Social Security early. It can make sense for other reasons as well, making it worth the time to do some research.
Above All, Be Faithful
The way we use stimulus money is an indication of what is in our hearts. God wants us to be faithful to Him when it comes to managing all money. Consider these passages:
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?” (Luke 16:10-13 ESV)
“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:1-2 ESV)
You and I are stewards of all that God provides, including stimulus checks! Put God first and manage it with the intention of pleasing Him.
To #Ask Chuck @AskCrown your own question, click here.
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, the largest Christian financial ministry in the world, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Money Problems, Marriage Solutions. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.