Stimulus check 2 appears increasingly unlikely to be delivered this side of 2021 after Congress began closing in on a new COVID-19 financial relief bill from which a second round of direct cash payments was notably absent.
Following months of negotiations over the potential for a follow up to the original round of $1,200 stimulus checks, a $908 billion rescue plan for the economy has gained the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Central to the plan is new money for state and local government and small businesses, and an extra $300 a week in bonus federal unemployment payments: a less generous, but nevertheless welcome move, that would replace the original Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program that gave the jobless an additional $600 a week, but which expired at the end of July (opens in new tab).
That step alone should be sufficient to help some avoid having to look to payday loans (opens in new tab) and personal loans (opens in new tab) to make ends meet. However, what Americans have been keeping a watch for the most - especially as it will be paid to eligible taxpayers both in and out of work - is a stimulus check 2.
When could stimulus check 2 arrive?
For many, the payments proved an essential lifeline, helping to make up for financial shortfalls resulting from lockdowns and job loss as the pandemic hit the economy through job losses and lockdowns. Those who already had financial wiggle room also appeared to use their payments sensibly, spending the money that they received rather than using credit cards (opens in new tab) as they might normally do, with the net result that credit card debt has just fallen for the first time in eight years (opens in new tab).
The benefits for both American households and the US economy overall have been obvious, but with time almost up on Congress’s work for 2020, a new round of stimulus checks looks set to be one of the first points of agenda for President-elect Joe Biden to resolve following his inauguration on January 20.
Of course, challenges to a smooth passage will undoubtedly remain, particularly with a new Congress installed and the likelihood that a vaccine roll out will be underway, and so providing its own boost to the economy. And even if approval is gained, remember that the administrative wheels will need to be set in motion, meaning any payment is unlikely to be made until February at the earliest.
How to shore up your finances while you wait
If you're struggling financially and really needed stimulus check 2 to be sorted sooner rather than later, there’s a few measures you can take that might help.
You’re probably already doing it, but look to see if there’s any more ways that you can cut back on your spending. Could new cell phone providers (opens in new tab) get you a cheaper deal on your phone, or could you make your own coffee rather than buying one on your way to work?
Take control of your debt
No one will blame you if you’ve relied on your credit card a bit more heavily of late, but you should never forget that interest will be building up, and adding to the amount that you owe. If this is you, consider the merits of a 0% balance transfer card (opens in new tab), or think about combining all your credit card debt together into a single more manageable loan with the best debt consolidation companies (opens in new tab).
Save on your insurance
With car use plummeting during lockdowns, many of the best auto insurance (opens in new tab) providers have reduced their premiums, so always compare providers when it’s time to renew. Shopping around among providers of homeowners insurance (opens in new tab) is also a must, and an easy way to save money.
Refinance your mortgage
With mortgage rates having been at or close to record lows throughout 2020, millions of homeowners have been able to lower their monthly mortgage payments by hundreds of dollars (opens in new tab) by refinancing their mortgage to a better deal. If you haven’t done so yet, take the time to look at the best refinance mortgage companies (opens in new tab) now, and see how much you could save.