By Victoria Rolfe
Well, here we are again. A third stimulus check is coming our way, and millions of us are wondering how we should use it. Of course, there are any number of things you can do, and a lot of what you do may ultimately depend on your personality. Are you a spender or a saver?
The great irony here is that the very people who might need to save that money (because they have a history of spending) are the ones who may choose to spend it, whereas the natural savers (who are already in good financial stead due to that character trait) are likely to save this money too.
So let’s have a run down here on what you should be doing with the money depending upon your individual financial circumstances at the current time:
First, are you current with all your bills? Are you able to shelter and feed yourself and your family? If this is a struggle for you, then it will have to go to your most dire needs, and that’s that. My heart goes out to you during this trying time and I hope as this crisis gets better, your situation will improve accordingly.
If you are okay with that, then do you have any debts? As long as you do not need this money to survive, and do not anticipate needing it to cover bills, then paying down your debts should be your next priority.
Do you have an emergency fund? If you do not have this cushion, then this is the optimal time to start one. Ideally you should aim to have at least three to six months’ living expenses put aside in a separate bank account for times, well, such as the one we have just gone through (whether it be global or more personal in nature).
Are there some big financial goals in your future? Will you be needing a new car? Planning a wedding? Saving to buy a house? If you are on financially secure footing with all of the above, then this is the perfect time to add to your savings for whatever your goals are. If any of these goals are slated for at least five years down the road, then it would be fine to invest all or part of that money into a low-cost, relatively safe mutual fund, such as an index fund.
And, lastly there is that longest term goal of all, retirement. There is nothing wrong, especially if you are feeling a little behind on your retirement saving schedule, with adding this money to your retirement account. Alternatively, you may want to use the money to pay off a chunk of your mortgage to help you get to those retirement years in a totally debt-free state.
I know, I didn’t give any “spending” options in this list, but hey, I’m a budget coach. We teach people how to save their money. So, I guess if you are on nice solid financial ground on all fronts and you want to take this money and spend it on something, then what can I say? But whatever you do, please put the money to good use. If you really don’t need it at all, perhaps you could donate it to those who really do.
This prioritization schedule can be applied to all windfall money that comes into your life at any time for whatever reason. It is very easy to go down the list, see where you are with your finances and know exactly what to do with it.
I hope this helps! As always, wishing you all a very bright financial future!
Victoria Rolfe is a family budget coach who has had a lifetime of experience in the art and joy of frugal living and its resulting financial freedom. She spent many years as a stay-at-home mom and home economist and rose successfully to the challenge of raising a family of four kids on a modest income without incurring debt. She did crazy things like paying for all their cars with cash, paying off their mortgage in ten years, buying their next house for cash, and sending all her kids to college with no student loans, while building a comfortable retirement nest egg for their own bright future.
She is now passionate about helping others to enter this beautiful world of peaceful and simple frugality and to achieve their own financial goals with the knowledge and personal finance skills that she has acquired. She writes a monthly blog, teaches via a series of light-hearted group presentations that she created, and sees clients in one-on-one personal meetings.