I'm Doing Fine Financially. What Should I Do With My Stimulus?
by Maurie Backman | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on March 27, 2021
Don't need your stimulus to pay bills or dig out of debt? Here's what you can do with it instead.
The $1,400 stimulus payments that have been hitting Americans' bank accounts over the past week or so are a lifeline for those who have been struggling during the pandemic. But what if you're not part of that group and have gotten a stimulus, nonetheless?
While lawmakers did institute a lower income cutoff for this third stimulus round, individuals earning $75,000 or less and couples earning $150,000 or less were still entitled to a full $1,400 per person. And if you're not one of the Americans dealing with income loss during COVID-19, then you may be sitting on a lot of money you don't need for bills.
So what should you do with that cash? First, you should use it to pad your emergency fund if you don't already have three to six months' worth of living expenses in a savings account. And if you're good on emergency savings but have unhealthy debt, you should knock out that credit card balance or pay off a personal loan.
But what if you're really in good shape financially? Do you have ample savings and no debt other than a mortgage? (You shouldn't feel compelled to pay off your mortgage ahead of schedule, especially if your home loan came with a low mortgage rate.) If that's the case, here are some options for your stimulus cash.
1. Invest in stocks
There's risk involved in buying stocks -- your investments could end up losing value. But the upside is that investing gives you the potential to grow your $1,400 stimulus into a much larger sum. So if you don't need that money for a near-term financial goal, you can open a brokerage account, invest it, and turn it into a larger payday over time.
2. Invest in your career
Maybe you're doing well enough professionally, but you'd like a promotion or the chance to switch to a field you think you'll enjoy more. If an education is what's holding you back, you might consider using your stimulus to further your career. That could mean taking a handful of online courses, pursuing a license or certification, or even getting a master's degree. Now, to be clear, a $1,400 stimulus generally won't cover an entire master's program -- but it could help you make a dent in that tuition.
3. Treat yourself
The pandemic has been hard on a lot of people. So if spending your stimulus cash on something that makes you happy changes your outlook for the better, so be it. You might treat yourself to a new piece of furniture (maybe a desk and chair so you can work more comfortably in your home office), or use that money to book a flight back home to see your family. If there's a larger expense that's been out of reach financially up until now, your stimulus payment could be your ticket to it.
A lot of people absolutely need their stimulus funds to get by or improve their finances, but if that's not you, you have other options. Whether you choose to invest in the stock market, further your career, or treat yourself to something special, put some thought into that decision so you wind up happy with your choice.
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