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Cheerful family paying bills at home. E-banking.

Have you received your COVID-19 stimulus payment or are you expecting it soon? Have you started thinking about how you would spend it?

It’s tempting to think about all of the ways you could spend an extra $1,200 or $2,400 – depending your filing status and the number of dependents you claim. Before you get that list finalized, we want to give you some tips to help your money stretch as far as possible.

1. Prioritize.

Look at your bills. What are essential – rent or mortgage, car payment, utilities – and what bills are non-essential – entertainment, streaming services, unusable memberships? Make a list of what you need and what you can live without. Focus on paying the essential bills first.

2. Save. Save. Save.

Don’t miss an opportunity to pad your savings account with some of your stimulus money. It’s a one-time payment so think of your stimulus as a mini emergency fund. You may want to set aside some of the payment as “in case” money.

3. Divide and conquer.

You only get one stimulus payment, but your bills will still come monthly. If you’re currently unemployed, it’s especially important to be strategic in how you spend your stimulus payment. Take this opportunity to divide it up into smaller chunks to help cover some of the essential bills you pay each month. Also, talk to your landlord or mortgage lender, your utility company and internet service provider if you’re having trouble meeting your monthly obligations. A lot of companies are finding ways to help their customers during this unprecedented situation.

4. Don’t hoard cash.

Hoarding cash is a bad idea in general. Your money is much safer at your credit union than it is in your home. The National Credit Union Administration insures amounts up to $250,000. So, bring it to us and let us keep an eye on it. Plus, if you have a checking account that has a cashback option, you could make money on it while it sits in your account.

5. Pay down debt.

Paying off debt is almost never a bad financial move but think about it and prioritize carefully. Even in these uncertain times, paying off your highest-interest debt isn’t a bad idea. But, don’t feel like you need to be in a hurry to spend all your stimulus money on paying off debt. Look at your options for forbearance, payment deferrals or even the option to skip a monthly payment. If you can get some relief on your debts in the coming months, let that stimulus payment sit in your savings account.

6. Splurge Smartly.

We’re all feeling the weight of stress, grief and uncertainty as we wonder when this pandemic will end, and life will return to normal. No matter how you decide to spend your stimulus check, set aside a little bit to spend on something fun for yourself. Maybe even shop at some of your local businesses to offer support. Remember: the government is hoping these stimulus payments will put some cashflow back into the economy to stimulate it.

Over the past couple of months, we’ve faced a situation no one could’ve possibly prepared for. We know that our members have been affected in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the stimulus payments will certainly help and offer some relief to most, please know that Central Valley Firefighters Credit Union is here for you. We want to help you stretch your stimulus payment as far as it will possibly go. Maybe you need to skip a monthly payment or you’re looking for a relief loan. Regardless of your needs, give us a call and let us figure out how to help.

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