CNBC Make It is posting a new financial task to tackle each day for a month. These are all meant to be simple, time-sensitive activities to take your mind off of the news for a moment and, hopefully, put you on sturdier financial footing. This is day five of 30.
Millions of Americans will receive a coronavirus stimulus check from the IRS in the coming weeks and months. Today, take 10 minutes to figure out how you will spend or save yours once it hits your bank account. That way, you will have a clear action plan to maximize the money.
If you have many different expenses that you will need to pay, consider all of your options. Are there any bills that you can defer to later? Many banks and financial companies are waiving fees and deferring payments for customers impacted by the pandemic. Call your bank and credit card issuer to see what they can offer you.
Next, prioritize paying for housing and food. After that, make minimum payments on any debt or other obligations, such as credit card payments you could not get deferred. Once those basics are met, put any leftover funds into your emergency fund or use it to pay off your debt with the highest interest rate, which will save you money in the long run. To help stretch your stimulus check as far as possible, read how to budget the money you have left.
If you don't need the check immediately, consider distributing it between your own savings and your community. You can buy from local restaurants and other shops or donate a portion.
Remember, though you might not need the money now, it's always possible you or a family member will need it in an emergency, especially for a surprise medical bill. Think about how much you have in savings now, compared to how much more you would need to feel comfortable, and save that amount. Having a little more stashed away never hurt.