As the coronavirus pandemic swirls around us, we’re all looking for a little relief as we work to manage our finances. For many, that will arrive in the form of a stimulus check drawn from the government’s $2 trillion coronavirus relief package. The federal government intends this untaxed lump sum to help meet immediate needs as the nation faces a dramatic economic downturn.
Already, payments are arriving on a rolling basis for millions of people. But each of us is different, with varying income levels, financial obligations, tax filings and urgency. So take the time now to sift through the information below, understand how to best take advantage of this critical opportunity for you and your family, and formulate a plan to move forward.
Step 1: Start with the IRS Economic Impact Payment Information Center.
You’re probably hearing a lot of conflicting news about stimulus payments, so make sure you go to the most credible government source: the Internal Revenue Service. They’re the people who are writing the checks, and they’ll provide the facts and answers you need to apply for yours. Use this page to understand eligibility requirements, how to request payment, calculate the amount you should receive, and where payment will be sent. In many cases, your payment will come to you without any action required, but don’t wait to find out and miss this financial opportunity. Information will be updated regularly, so be sure to check back for coronavirus updates that could affect your payment.
Step 2: You have your stimulus payment. Now you need a plan.
Now that your stimulus check is in your hands, how do you prioritize where the money should go? And how do you stay on track financially, not knowing how long our troubled economy will last? Here are some basic money-managing tips to consider as you make the best decisions for you and those you love.
Purchase necessary food supplies, while considering nutrition, value and shelf life. Delicious healthy recipes that use inexpensive ingredients are trending all over the Internet. Cook meals and freeze extra for future use.
Pay bills that can’t be deferred, or consider paying down other debt or credit card balances. Be sure to talk to creditors about borrowers’ assistance programs that could let you delay payments or offer one-on-one assistance for your specific situation. Most will work with you without penalty or reporting to credit bureaus.
Apply the funds to a necessary home repair that will keep your family comfortable and safe while being quarantined. Or repair the car or motorcycle that you need to get to work and earn income.
Save the money. None of us can accurately predict how long it will take our economy to recover from this pandemic. You might want to deposit your check in an emergency fund — or start one if you haven’t already.
Step 3: Explore free how-to’s for relieving anxiety – and managing your financial future.
At OneMain, we are committed to your financial health as you make enormous sacrifices to protect your physical health. Boost your knowledge, fast and free, with our wide range of financial education micro-courses. Learn how to create and stay on a budget, manage debt, build savings and more. Even empower your K-12 kids with free financial lessons for life.
Keeping you informed and equipped with financial literacy tools is just one way we are here to help. For more trustworthy resources, turn to OMF.com/HereToHelp, OMF.com/resources and irs.gov/Coronavirus.