How to Manage Your Budget if There's No Second Stimulus Check

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If your finances have taken a hit and you need to make it without a second stimulus check, this plan of action should help.

It's been four months since the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act, a $3 trillion stimulus proposal. Since that time, the Senate has done little more than rename the package and cut it by approximately $2.5 trillion. So far, they cannot find the political will to pass a new stimulus package that would help millions of struggling Americans.

Our grandparent's generation liked to say, "Plan for the worst, hope for the best." In that spirit, just in case Congress can't get it together, now seems like a good time to plan for the worst. These four steps can help you manage your budget if there is no second stimulus check.

1. Find out what's going on with your employer

If you're still collecting unemployment (or are unemployed without benefits), contact your employer. If business has picked up, there may be enough work to bring you back. At the very least, explore this possibility as you move on to the next steps.

2. Get serious about developing new skills

Now is the time to pick up new skills. A new skill may not help you buy groceries today, but it can help you prepare for a new job or enhance your odds of promotion in the future. Reinventing yourself also provides a satisfying distraction from world events you cannot control. Here are some samples of how you can develop new skills:

Learn a new language: Visit your local library to borrow language books, CDs, and videos. You are never too old to become fluent in a foreign language, even if it takes you a while to become conversational. As the economy becomes ever more global, having a second language on your resume can open up a whole new range of job possibilities.

Make your computer skills marketable: Whether you're a semi-pro already or can barely turn on a computer without help, there are tons of online computer classes available. Not all are free, but if you're unemployed, you are likely to qualify for scholarships or grants. If you want to learn to program, code, or be the expert companies call on when their computers need repair, explore your options. A tech career is a great way to put money in the bank. Here are a few ways to get started:

  • LinkedIn Learning offers a large library of free computer skills classes that will add to your skill level quickly.
  • Google's Career Certificate Program gives you the tools to learn up-to-date skills that set you apart from the crowd. Though the courses are not free, scholarships and grants are available.
  • Microsoft offers free online curriculum to prepare you for certification exams in many of its systems. The courses are free, but the certification exams cost money.

Discover your passion: Consider what you would do with your life if money were not an issue. Would you be a photographer, care for pets, become a chef, or start an in-home business? There are online courses covering hundreds of careers. Find one and get started.

3. Create new streams of income

This pandemic may feel as though it came out of the blue, but life is full of uncertainty. Create enough streams of income that you never have to count on just one job to sustain you. Here are a few possibilities:

Take paid surveys: While it may sound like a scam, there are plenty of legit survey sites, like MyPoints and Survey Junkie that pay for your opinion.

Flip "finds": Go through your home to find items you once loved but no longer use. Sell them online through sites like Ebay, OfferUp, or Sheepbuy. Once it's safe to go into crowds again, visit flea markets and estate sales to find products you believe you can flip for a profit.

Market your particular skill: Let's say you carve intricate wood figures, or sew draperies for fun. Get the word out that your services are available, and charge what your time is worth. The more you value your skill, the more others will be willing to pay for it.

Rethink your lifestyle: If your dream is to live a simpler life, now is the time to go for it. Get rid of stuff you have no need for, adopt a more streamlined way of living, and only purchase items you will use.

4. Explore resources and assistance

There are resources available to help you mitigate long-term financial damage.

For example, if you are a senior citizen, contact Meals on Wheels to get nutritious meals delivered to your home. Depending on your financial situation, you may be eligible for these meals at no cost.

Early in the pandemic, many financial institutions extended relief to customers struggling to pay loans. If you're afraid of falling behind on your mortgage, private student loan, credit card, or other consumer loans, give your lender a call and ask about any relief programs they offer.

Even if Congress does get it together enough to send another round of stimulus checks, "preparing for the worst" can offer you a greater sense of control -- and given what we're going through right now, a sense of control is an invaluable gift.

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