Let’s be honest, the pandemic has weighed pretty heavy on all of us. I live out in Seattle, and sitting in my apartment working with the constant rain beating on the window and no outside human contact has been pretty dark. But if there’s been one silver lining to all of this mayhem, it’s that Uncle Sam hooked us up with some free money!
With the three rounds of stimulus checks that we’ve gotten, a lot of us are a whole $4,200 richer! Now, maybe you spent your first two stimulus checks on an Xbox, a pet dog, or something else to make the countless hours of quarantine pass by faster. But, hopefully, you still got that third stimulus check sitting in your bank account, because I’m about to tell you some of the best ways that you can spend that gracious gift from the U.S. Treasury.
Here’s how you should spend your latest $1,400 stimulus check! Let’s go! Oh, and I almost forgot, if for some reason you didn’t receive any of the three stimulus checks, you can claim them as a tax credit on your 2020 filing. Don’t miss out on free money!
Pay Your Bills
Before you go out and spend that stimulus on something you don’t need, you should definitely pay off your obligations first. I’m talking about credit card balances, overdue bills, and any other outstanding debt you have.
If you have any kind of debt, your stimulus checks should definitely be going towards that before you use them for leisure or luxury items. Those credit card balances and auto loans have interest, so the faster you pay them off, the less money you’re going to end up paying. In that way, your stimulus check is worth even more than $1,400, because it’s going to save you future interest charges.
Paying bills isn’t all that exciting, but it’s definitely the first thing you should do with your excess cash. Speaking of the power of interest, if you don’t have any outstanding debt, why not put your money into a retirement fund and watch it grow over the years?
Put It in a Retirement Fund
You could spend your $1,400 stimulus now, or you could put it in a Roth IRA and watch it grow into way more money with all you’ll be banking from compound interest. Roth IRAs often get between 7% and 10% interest per year.
If you put your $1,400 in a Roth IRA today and it gets a consistent 7% return, in 20 years, that money is going to grow into over $5,400, and you don’t even have to contribute any more money over those 20 years! Let it sit in that account for 40 years, and you’re looking at nearly $21,000! Look at that, the government just gave you $21,000, and all you have to do is wait.
Saving for retirement is a great way to make sure you’re financially stable down the line, but another great way to make sure you never declare bankruptcy is to open an emergency fund.
Start an Emergency Fund
You never know what’s going to happen, and only a fool doesn’t plan for the unexpected. No, I’m not saying you should go invest in a doomsday shelter. I’m saying you should take that $1,400, put it in a separate savings account, and use it as your emergency fund. That way, if you ever need to pay for unexpected medical bills, a car repair, a lawsuit, or any other unforeseen expense, you’ll have some backup money to help you out.
Alright, it’s no fun thinking about disastrous scenarios, so let’s move on to something a little lighter. How about making your house nicer?
Remodel Your Home
If you own a home or an apartment, you could try doing some remodeling! No, $1,400 isn’t going to get you any extreme home makeover, but it could make a few nice improvements to the room of your choice. And that’s going to make your time spent quarantining just a little bit more enjoyable. Plus, it’s going to add to the value of your home! It’s a win-win.
You know what else might need a little work done on it? Your car!
Get Your Vehicle Repaired
A lot of people who used to commute to work by car every day are now spending all their work hours on Zoom, sitting in their underwear and forgetting to put themselves on mute. You know what that means? A ton of cars have been sitting in the garage for months and barely getting any use.
If that’s the case with your set of wheels, perhaps it’s time you take it to the mechanic and get a few repairs done. Having to pay for unexpected repairs absolutely sucks when you’re strapped for cash, so why not get them out of the way now?
Alright, so maybe so far, you already have everything I’ve mentioned: a perfect house, no debt, a fat retirement fund, and a well-working car. Maybe it’s time to think about helping out the less fortunate.
Give to Charity
With the massive economic toll that this pandemic has taken all around the globe, there are more people in need than ever before. If you find yourself in a pretty good position on the tail end of this pandemic, maybe you should donate that stimulus check to charity.
You don’t have to give the whole $1,400 dollars away, but consider giving $100 to your local food bank, or go on a site like CharityNavigator.org and find a charity that aligns with your personal interests. It will really make a difference in other people’s lives, and it will give you that warm, fuzzy feeling inside.
While giving to others is the probably the most generous thing you can do with your stimulus, I understand that everyone needs to spend some money on themselves once and a while. And what better way to treat yourself than by planning a vacation?
Get Some Travel Deals
With the travel industry essentially in the toilet right now, prices on flights and hotel bookings are unbelievably cheap. There has never been a better time to plan yourself a future vacation than right now. That way, you’ll have something to look forward to when this whole pandemic is behind us, and you can sit around in your house and dream about being in Aruba all day.
Just make sure to make your bookings fairly far in the future, and be absolutely sure to purchase travel insurance, because who knows if your plans, or the pandemic restrictions, might change.
Speaking of COVID-19 restrictions, I’ve heard that a lot of local businesses are opening back up these days, and they need your help more than ever. Go shop local!
If there’s nothing you want more than to go on a little shopping spree with your $1,400 stimulus check, don’t go on Amazon. Take that money down to Main Street! Those local businesses that have been shut down for months, and they need your patronage just to stay above water.
Shopping local is a great way to help people in your community and get out of the house, which we all need these days. And who knows? You might even meet a new friend along the way!
If you could care less about shopping in stores, and just want to see that money grow, here’s another thing you could shop for: stocks!
Buy Some Stocks
Since no one is really going out these days, I’m sure you’re spending a whole lot more time on your computer. Why not use that time to do some stock market research? Go check out Motley Fool, Business Insider, MarketWatch, Yahoo Finance, and all those different sites, and find some stocks that you believe in.
A lot of people like investing in stocks purely for the joy of it, and if you’re savvy and you watch a lot of our Ideal Money videos, you could end up making a whole lot of money off your investments. So, get researching! You might just buy the next Facebook stock and get filthy rich!
Want a safer way to make sure your money grows that doesn’t require much research at all? Look into hiring a financial planner!
Talk to a Financial Planner
Get this: you could use your $1,400 to help make sure that you’re financially set forever. Use that stimulus check to pay for the fee for meeting with a fiduciary financial planner who charges a flat fee and won’t collect commissions on any of the products they sell you. This is a great way to leave your finances to the experts, and help set yourself for a future of financial security.
Just make sure you do some research on which financial planner you choose to go with, because there are some people in that business that are less-than-upstanding. Find the right financial planning professional, though, and you’ll be way better off!