By now, many people have received the $1,200 check allocated to tax-paying individuals as a part of the coronavirus relief package that was passed by Congress in March. Despite the initial excitement expressed by many Americans, the shifting economy and its impact on our financial situations mean this money will likely be spent on one thing: paying off bills.
"I had a $500 propane bill. I had an electric bill. I had a car insurance bill. A health insurance bill. And uh did I mention the cell phone bill?," said Lisa Cutler, a jeweler who sells her goods at craft fairs throughout New England.
Many of those events Cutler usually attends have been canceled because of the pandemic. But her bills haven't.
"The money was spent before the ink dried on the check — $1,200 didn't even cover it," Cutler said. "But it was like, OK, I can make a dent in these. And, you know, thanks. When's the next one coming?"
This is not an uncommon occurrence, no matter where you are located in the country. Thousands of small businesses have been forced to shut their doors without even attempting to make the necessary adjustments caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Those who have survived had to be creative in the way they spent their stimulus checks and other loans provided by the government.
Hourly workers whose paychecks have stopped arriving are amongst the people most affected by the economic shutdown — and those who are most dependent on the $1,200 provided by our government.
"Because I'm a massage therapist — and I think it will be one of the last businesses that will not only be opened back up but really make a comeback — I plan on just putting it aside for my next quarter's real estate taxes because I don't know how long it will be before I'm working again," Colette Cipullo, of Gloucester, said.
The federal relief money is meant to help alleviate at least some of the pain of the pandemic. Some people who aren’t experiencing pain are donating their money.
"I don't really need it," said Spenser Duehr, a health care IT consultant. "Fortunately, I still have my job and it pays well. So, I don't really consider myself someone who needs some of the relief funds."
No matter what you do or where you live, it is safe to assume that your life has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As we all navigate a new sense of normal, it’s important to consider the possibility that our financial situation will change significantly. Our recommendation? Use your stimulus checks and other relief-focused funds carefully in order to give yourself the cushion necessary to prepare for the future.