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5 Ways to Make Ends Meet If You're Not Getting a Stimulus Check

By Kailey Hagen – Apr 22, 2020 at 12:02PM

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Stimulus checks are one way to pay your bills, but they're not the only way.

Millions of Americans have already received their stimulus checks or are expected to in the coming weeks. But they're not coming to everyone's bank accounts. If you earned more than $75,000 as a single adult, more than $150,000 as a married couple filing jointly, or more than $112,500 as a head of household, you won't qualify for the full stimulus check amount, and you may not get anything. Adults who did not file taxes in 2018 or 2019 and do not receive Social Security won't get stimulus checks either.

That doesn't mean some of these households couldn't use a little financial assistance right now. If you aren't getting a stimulus check but need a little help making ends meet, here are a few places you can turn to for help during these challenging times.

Young couple doing financial calculations together.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Emergency fund

If you have an emergency fund, consider calling upon it now if you're struggling to make ends meet. Use this in conjunction with some of the other tips listed here so you don't burn through your emergency savings as quickly. If you are able to pocket a little extra money every month using a combination of the tips listed here, keep it in a savings account so you can access it quickly if your other sources of income dry up.

2. Unemployment

Those who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 are eligible for unemployment. The amount you'll get depends on where you live and what your income was before you were laid off, but the CARES Act adds an extra $600 per week to your normal state amount and enables you to claim benefits for up to 13 additional weeks beyond your state's maximum. 

Go to your state unemployment website to apply. Be prepared for a wait as these sites are experiencing much higher demand than normal right now. You likely don't have to worry about work-search requirements or a one-week waiting period as many states have waived these in light of the pandemic.

3. New job

If unemployment is not an option, you can seek out a temporary job to hold you over until you can go back to your normal job. Grocery stores, grocery delivery services, and cleaning services are seeing unprecedented demand right now, and many are looking to take on additional workers to help them meet it until things go back to normal. The federal government is also hiring thousands of Americans to help with the 2020 census.

You could also explore work-from-home opportunities. These can range from watching your neighbor's pet or children if they still have to go to work to working as a virtual assistant, or selling items you no longer need to earn a little extra cash. 

4. Reducing spending

You've probably already tightened your belt since the COVID-19 pandemic, but if you haven't, now is a good time to do so. Eliminate any unnecessary spending to help your existing dollars stretch further until you get some money coming in again. Consider canceling subscription services and reducing your cellphone's data plan to start. You might not need as much data as you normally would if you're using your home WiFi all the time.

You could also try lowering the heat on your water heater and thermostat to reduce your heating costs, and using coupons when you go to the grocery store to save a few dollars on the items you were going to buy anyway. Every little bit helps.

5. Hardship assistance

Many credit card companies, banks, and other service providers are enabling customers to defer payments for a couple of months without incurring late fees. Your balance will likely accrue interest during this time, so you don't want to use these programs if you can still afford to pay your bills every month. But if you can't, they're worth looking into.

Contact your banks and service providers to see if they are offering any hardship assistance to customers affected by COVID-19. Many companies have now created dedicated COVID-19 pages on their websites to address questions and concerns about how the pandemic is affecting services. You must apply for these programs in order to avoid late fees and other penalties. You cannot just assume you're enrolled automatically.

The government stimulus checks are one way to make ends meet, but there are other options if you don't qualify for one. Try a combination of the suggestions listed here to see what kind of a difference they can make for you.

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