Several weeks ago I offered a challenge – to be generous with your stimulus check. No, don’t just sign it over to the church, but figure out a way to different – to share of the small windfall you have received.
That offer still stands. But today I received an e-mail from an organization that I have had contact with before. The organization, www.sharesavespend.com emphasizes wise use of our money as we navigate what is, even in normal time, a sometimes treacherous world. They especially focus on how our culture impacts our money habits.
The e-mail, written by Nathan Dungan, suggests some ways to be wise in using the dollars you have, or soon will receive. Dungan comes from a practical, yet faith centered approach. He has served on the board of Lutheran Social Services (Minnesota), and has been quoted by a number of national media organizations. He’s worth listening too!
Now, I know that for some of you this may be stuff you are already figuring out, but I thought it was worth sharing anyway.
So…here’s what Nathan says…
Making the Most of Your Stimulus Check
Wind the clock back three months and the concept of receiving a stimulus check due to a global pandemic would have been something out of a sci-fi movie. And yet, this is our current reality.
Before this event, the only time most of us received unexpected money was landing on Treasury Chest while playing Monopoly. The concept of a stimulus check can trigger a range of emotions, often influenced by your current financial and vocational status: still employed, furloughed, or unemployed.
For some people, this stimulus money might come at just the right time to help cover basic needs. Others may have more freedom about how to allocate these resources.
Your first impulse on how to use extra cash might not be your best choice. It’s good to step back and consider how you can use the stimulus money to reduce anxiety and improve your wellbeing.
Your best decision will be based on the facts of your current financial circumstances. In these uncertain times, there are important questions to ask:
What’s your current “money-in, money-out”? In other words, how much do you make and where does it go?
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, how have those numbers changed? How might those numbers change in the future?
When you know where you stand with your money, then you can begin to prioritize how to best allocate resources.
If you and others in your family receive stimulus checks, now is the time to begin discussing possibilities. We all have patterns in how we talk about money, and often we live in the extremes of SILENCE or LOUD VOICES around money. This is a great opportunity to find the sane middle and step into a positive financial CONVERSATION.
Consider these three options:
Create a list of ways you might spend your check. You can include immediate needs like food, mortgage/rent, or other bills or wants, non-essentials. If you’re discussing this with a partner or family, it might be helpful for each person to create a list, then compare results.
If you decide to spend some or all of your stimulus money, fine-tune your plan. For example, are you able to purchase items from local businesses to help them in this difficult environment? Consider buying meals from nearby restaurants hit hard by the economic downturn. Or what about purchasing gift certificates from your favorite local businesses?
Think about what future needs or wants might motivate you to save your stimulus money. Perhaps you will want to invest in a longer-term goal like a college fund, retirement, car, or vacation.
If you choose to save, consider the best place to safeguard your money so you aren’t tempted to use it for non-essentials. A savings account is likely better than a checking/debit account.
A final option is to donate some of your stimulus check. There are needs everywhere, but you might choose to create impact nearby. Give to charities providing food for local families or to other organizations providing much-needed resources in your community.
Finally, Dungan suggests “to further your conversations, use these questions:
How confident are we about our money-in, money out? What additional information do we need?
What financial adjustments have we made because of the coronavirus? What changes do we anticipate in the days, weeks, or months ahead?
I thank Dungan for his insights, and I hope they are helpful for you. Remember that faithful discipleship includes how we use our financial gifts. So, be wise with all your financial resources, and live as a faithful disciple!