The current buzz about the upcoming stimulus plan and the state of the US economy has a lot of people talking. When the Bush administration and Congress alerted the public that families and individuals would be getting checks ranging from $600 to $1,800, people were excited. And, I have to admit; I was even starting to consider what I was going to do with my piece of the pie. So, apart from all the independently wealthy folks out there who aren’t thinking twice about this check, let me give you a couple of things to consider.
The Goal Is Spending
The government is actually sending these checks out with the hopes that you, the normal consumer will go out and spend this money- on a flat screen TV, on a new pair of tires you’ve needed or any other shiny, glittery, thing that catches your eye. Now, that’s all fine and dandy, but if you’re going to spend the money, you might as well get the best bang for your buck (pun intended). If you are currently in the market to purchase a big-ticket item, then wait for the season when checks will be disbursed. Many stores understand that a lot of cash will suddenly be infused into the economy and they will be competing to get your dollars. So let them fight over you and use this time to negotiate on price.
Knock Out Some Debt
This could be as good a time as any to use these funds to pay off some credit card debt as well- especially the ones with high interest rates. For example, if you are making minimum payments on a credit card debt that has a 20-24% rate, paying it off will allow you to put that money into a savings account or an investment account where it can now grow in your favor, rather than grow into a larger burden.
The Emotional Side
Whatever you decide to do with your newfound wealth, make sure you wait at least 7 days before you make any decisions. Most of the financial messes we’ve made were done on a whim and were emotional, impulse decisions. Some may argue that the weeks leading up to the check being received, is adequate time to think about your decision- but I believe that the dynamic changes greatly when you actually have the cash in your hands (Try holding $20,000 cash in your hands and see what happens to your heart rate). So pray, or budget, or project, or simply slow down and think about the ramifications and results of what your financial decision will make.
Ultimately, this check will be gone from most of our hands within weeks of receiving it, but if you can approach these concepts with this one check AND to what you earn regularly, you will have put some legs to a plan to start changing the landscape of your financial future.