If you’re like millions of Americans, you have or are going to soon receive an economic stimulus check or direct deposit payment into your bank account. For the estimated 17 million of Americans filing for unemployment due to the pandemic, this $1,200 payment per adult and $500 per child could mean the difference between paying for groceries, rent, and household items this month or not. If you are still employed and your job has not been impacted due to COVID-19, then the stimulus money could help you help the local economy with thoughtful spending or giving or could help move you closer to reaching your savings goals.
First and foremost, let’s help you determine the best manner to deposit a hard-copy check amidst the social distancing guidelines. Rest assured, First Bank is considered an essential service provider and is open; however, we’re taking all of the precautions necessary to help keep you safe. That said, if you received your stimulus money as a paper check in the mail, there are several options to help you get it deposited into your checking account, while still maintaining proper social distancing requirements. At First Bank, you can 1) set up an appointment with a banker for a time that works best for you at firstbanks.com, 2) use mobile deposit by downloading our mobile banking app, First Bank on the Go, or 3) use any of our First Bank branches’ night drop or drive-through services.
Be wary of phishing and scam emails directing you to click on any links for your stimulus payment. The stimulus payments have been or will be direct deposited or sent to you via U.S. Postal Service with a hard-copy check. If you’re in doubt, please reach out to a knowledgeable First Bank team member before clicking.
Use the Stimulus Money to Pay Bills
If your job has been impacted during this crisis or your hours reduced, then the stimulus money should be used to help cover any essential costs, like food, electric, and housing. If you’re eligible for unemployment benefits, then your stimulus check could help cover some bills and bridge the gap until unemployment insurance is available to you. Remember, if you find yourself in a crisis situation during the pandemic, there are programs and organizations available to help, so be sure to ask questions and do your research.
Use the Stimulus Money to Beef Up Your Emergency Savings
If you’re in the enviable position of having one or more stable incomes during the pandemic, then you need to determine the best use of your money. If you don’t have a solid emergency fund in place, or enough to cover a minimum of three months of living expenses, then experts agree that putting your stimulus money into a high-yield savings account that’s FDIC-insured is the best choice. Saving for a rainy day is always important; however, it’s even more relevant during a worldwide health and economic crisis. If you’re carrying high-interest debt, you may want to consider paying this down with your stimulus money as well if you have your emergency fund already funded.
Use the Stimulus Money to Help Your Community
After you have your emergency fund in place, or if you already had one established, consider ways you may be able to help local, charitable organizations or to stimulate the economy. Many charitable donations to your favorite charities could be reduced right now and the need for their resources even greater. Reach out to your local, reputable charitable providers and see how you may be able to help. You may also want to consider ordering your products and services from a local merchant or shopping for grocery products locally versus at larger, national chains. Try ordering some meals for curbside pickup at a local restaurant. As you may know, many business owners are struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic. Keep in mind, on average, for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 stays within that business’ local community². Shop local, where you can, and help a local business owner.
Of course, however you should spend or save your stimulus money is certainly a personal decision and one that’s based on your unique financial situation. The First Bank team is here to help you assess your financial situation and can help determine the best savings products for your money during this crisis and long after it has ended.