90 million Americans received the $1,400 stimulus checks this week. The recipients are part of the first wave of payments that totaled more than $242 billion, the Treasury Department, IRS and Bureau of the Fiscal Service announced Wednesday. Additional batches of payments will be made in the coming weeks. Recipients of this first tranche include those who provided direct deposit information on their 2019 or 2020 tax returns, or who submitted their information through the IRS non-filer tool last year.
So, what should you do with your stimulus check?
The first priority is going to be whatever is vital for you to live. Buy some groceries, supplies for the family or pay for your housing. If that's covered, then work on your bills. Prioritize what accounts to pay and try to get current. Make sure utilities are up to date so that the light, water and heat stay on.
One way to secure your financial future is to reduce your debt. A significant payment made to pay down a credit card and loan will help reduce the amount of interest paid on an account carrying a balance. The less interest you have to pay, the more funds you'll have available in the future. But before you do that, check with the debt holders because some are offering relief, including deferred payments and waived interest. Just be sure to read the fine print, as some of the assistance offered could delay interest rather than forgive it.
If your employment status or financial situation hasn’t changed as a result of the pandemic, but your emergency fund is non-existent or low, consider routing the funds to a high-yield savings account.
Ideally, you would have at least six months of your living expenses stowed away. But don’t let that big number stop you from starting small. Although an emergency fund can take some time to build up, you’ll feel more financially secure as you get closer and closer to your target balance.
If you’re feeling financially secure and your savings account is full, spend it.
That's right. Spend it. The whole thing. Purchase those things you've been holding back on. Just be sure to spend this money with a purpose. Not only with a purpose, but American Made.
To bring our country back from economic destruction, one of the biggest things we can do that is completely within our control is to buy products that are made in the U.S.A!
Sounds simple, but it can sometimes be challenging to find American made products. Navigating the web to do some online shopping that we have grown accustomed to during this pandemic can be as easy as searching the product you are looking for, and then typing "Made in the USA" after. You have to be careful though. Brands are aware that the Made in USA brand is more popular than it has been in decades and in some cases try to deceive you with flags, qualified made in USA claims and sometimes just outright intentional deception.
Here's a list of companies doing their part to promote Made in America, and make it easy for you to shop online, according to an article by Greg Owens with Coalition for a Prosperous America:
- Buy Direct USA
- Made in America Co.
- USA Lovelist
- Made in USA Forever
- The Made in America Store
- Liberty Tabletop
Why is buying American made products so important?
Owens also discusses the importance of buying American made. One of the reasons discussed is keeping America manufacturing companies alive and growing. Biggest reason for purchasing something not made in America? Cost. The United States is rarely the cheapest option for any purchase. Truth of the matter? Buying direct from an American manufacturer can actually save you money. Even though it costs more to make it here you can support domestic producers and still pay the same price at the retail level.
We learned several lessons throughout this pandemic; one of which was the PPE shortage we faced while in the thick of this pandemic. We demanded on healthcare workers in a intense way, all while running short on protective equipment to keep them from getting sick or losing their lives. This stems from decades of off-shoring pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, including PPE. It is time for America to be self-sufficient, and never to depend on a foreign country to supply us with protective equipment for any natural disaster, pandemic, etc.
Jobs. The pandemic shut our economy down and millions of jobs were lost across the country. Some of these jobs will return, but there are a vast amount that will be unable to make a comeback. Bringing back American manufacturing can replace a lot of these jobs. In addition, manufacturing jobs are typically career jobs with higher pay and better benefits than in the retail or hospitality arena.
Moral of this story: Buy American
If we all continue to buy American made products, our economy will come back bigger and better than ever. This goes further than spending your stimulus check on American made products. Make the vow to always buy American made. Christmas shopping, birthday shopping, anything! Please join us in taking the Made in America challenge and pledge to buy American wherever and whenever possible.