Like a lot of Americans, I am pretty broke right now. The pandemic plays a role, but there are a lot of other factors too. With the check promised in early January, I keep checking to see if there is any progress in Congress. Yes, I realize the words “progress in Congress” feel like an oxymoron sometimes. There is debate over how many different forms of relief to add to the bill. Should there be an extra bonus for kids? Should it address minimum wage? Accessibility to Covid-19 testing and vaccination efforts? Unemployment bonuses or extensions? How much money is too much to make in order to get the stimulus?
It is clear that whatever winds up getting included in the final bill, the actual passed law won’t carry the same meaning for each American, so what would you do if you actually benefit from the stimulus?
More of the Same
For many getting an extra deposit just means business as usual, with a little less panic. This is where I am. I may pay extra on a few bills, or take fewer breaks from streaming services, but I am not going to make any major purchases. It will likely dwindle from my account gradually to make up for later shortfalls as they come.
Taking a Step Forward
There are some people who can make their lives better by getting some unexpected money. They may be able to invest in something that will make their lives easier, or advance their business. I actually did this a little with the last stimulus. I got an Echo Dot that helps with reminders, background music while I work, and some routines. I also got a domain for my blog and got the paid version of Grammarly.
I’ve thought of other upgrades as well, like having a simple snowblower instead of a shovel. Buying an Instapot, or a robot vacuum, or a piece of exercise equipment. It has been a hard year, so if you can keep your current budget and do okay, and invest in something that will raise your standard of living and reduce your stress it’s a worthy venture.
Saving For an Even Rainer Day
Perhaps you are working a ton since the start of the pandemic, and have actually found ways to make the isolation a positive in your life financially. There are some that are in this boat, and more power to them. The housing market boomed, for example. If you are doing well, that is great, but it is never a reason to get overconfident. There is still a lot of progress to be made with the virus as well as the variants. Even if Covid-19 hasn’t hit home for you, it doesn't mean it won’t and any extra money in the bank could make a difference if it does.
Part of the argument for making the income threshold lower was that some politicians did not want to see too much of this money staying in the bank. People with lower incomes are more likely to put the money back into the economy, where it can actually stimulate things.
Investing in Small Business and Those Hurt Most By the Pandemic
It is no secret that small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, especially service-related businesses such as gyms, salons, smaller bars, and restaurants. Any business that relies on an in-person connection with clients or customers has probably suffered or had to make adjustments in order to stay afloat.
Making small choices that help small businesses instead of large corporations, even when they might cost you a little more can help. When there are a few more dollars in your pocket, there is a greater chance that you will be able to afford to make that choice. Some can make this a hard and fast rule for them to always choose small over large. Some take it one decision at a time. For example, I recently got my hair cut at a local privately owned salon rather than heading to a big box to save money.
Tipping grocery delivery and ride service drivers a bit more than usual is also something to consider. These are hard-working essential workers, who are largely underpaid, so skimping on tips can mean they have to work more and put themselves and their families at risk more often. If you can manage it, try to put out a little extra for these workers.
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Gretchen Lee Bourquin obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Literature/Creative Writing in another life, and worked in disability care, customer service, and education administration — and as a single mom of two, now grown, kids- before delving into freelancing as a content writer. She’s enjoying the opportunity that Medium provides to get a little more personal and put the creativity back in her writing. Follow me on my Facebook Writing Page, Twitter, or my blog