How to spend the incoming relief
If you are among the millions of Americans struggling financially because of the coronavirus pandemic, more relief is on the way.
The $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package, which is on its way through Congress and expected to be incorporated into law in mid-March, is expected to include direct payments of up to $ 1,400, an expansion of unemployment controls, rental support in excess of $ 20 billion and enhanced food services included.
The relief package comes in for about a year into a pandemic that has hit many people’s finances, cost them their jobs, forced them to take on debt, delay paying bills and worrying about eviction notices from their door be kept away.
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Here’s a look at the help the financially injured will soon see and how they might think about spending it. (Note that the exact details of these programs are still being negotiated by law and could change.)
1. Stimulus tests
Effective immediately, full direct stimulus payments of $ 1,400 would go to individuals with adjusted gross income of up to $ 75,000, head of households up to $ 112,500, and married couples filing up to $ 150,000 together.
Under the new terms set by the Senate and agreed by President Joe Biden, the more you earn above these thresholds the more you earn, the payments would decrease. This would be phased out completely for individuals earning $ 80,000, heads of households for $ 120,000, and married couples for $ 160,000.
“Stimulus funds are a one-time injection,” said Kristen Holt, President and CEO of Greenpath Financial Wellness.
Holt recommends directing this money immediately to any essential needs that have taken a back seat, including medication, groceries, or a car repair.
2. Unemployment benefit
It appears that unemployment benefits will be extended through September 6, with a $ 300 federal increase in addition to state benefits. The average weekly state check is $ 346.
Your unemployment controls may not match what you made before you lost your job. Experts recommend creating a budget with your new amount of income. You may need to cut costs to make sure you can keep paying your bills.
If you have any cash left over once your basics are covered, move it to a savings account, Holt said.
You are grateful for having done this if you are still unemployed at the end of the benefits or if unexpected costs arise. (For the best return on your money, keep your money in a high yield savings account. Also, make sure the account is FDIC insured. This means up to $ 250,000 of your deposit is protected from loss.)
Once you have a savings pad, use extra cash (if you have one) to pay off high-yield credit card debt, Holt said. You don’t want to lose your money on interest payments when your budget is already tight.
But as daunting as credit card debt may be, you don’t want to spend all of your money trying to turn it off.
“We wouldn’t recommend using cash that you need to cover medication and groceries and opting for credit card payments, especially if many lenders continue to provide pandemic relief,” Holt said. “Contact your bank [or] Credit union to determine what support is still available and to make sure the terms are appropriate. “
3. Rent Assistance
According to an analysis by the Center for Budget Policy and Priorities, around one in five tenants said they had not been overtaken on their rent in January. Closer to 36% of black tenants said they were staying behind.
A growing pot of federal funds that people can use for their rent arrears will help.
All states have already been allocated USD 25 billion in rental aid from the stimulus package passed in December. Now that $ 1.9 trillion auxiliary bill, still in progress, would provide an additional $ 20 billion.
You want to apply for these funds as soon as possible. This allows you to use other tools such as stimulus checks and unemployment benefits for other bills. People can receive financial assistance for up to 18 months of rent.
4. Food benefits
The benefits of SNAP or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program can help with your grocery bills and allow you to use other stimulus aids for other urgent expenses.
Benefits have been increased by 15% for all recipients through June, and the latest stimulus package is expected to extend the boost through September.
Under the new rules, a person could get up to $ 234 a month. A family of four could earn as much as $ 782 through September. In some states, the maximum benefit is even higher. For example, a family of four in Hawaii may receive a monthly benefit of $ 1,440.
The money is sent to you every month on an EBT card which acts like a debit card. People typically get the money in less than 30 days, but those with little to no income could get their benefits in a week.
Eligibility requirements can be shaky, but it doesn’t hurt to apply.
Many people miss the edge because they mistakenly assume they are ineligible or worry about the stigma, Carrie R. Welton, policy director at advocacy The Hope Center for College, Community and Justice, told CNBC last year Year.
“People are going to bring their own shame to this, but that’s tax resources,” Welton said. “This pandemic is not everyone’s fault.”
Have you recently applied for rental assistance? When you’re ready to discuss your experience for a story, please email me at [email protected]