Make Those Stimulus Funds Count

How do you make sure the stimulus funds provide you with the greatest benefit? Whatever you do, have a plan! Try this free online budget worksheet.

If you are fortunate enough that your income has not been impacted by this national crisis you should:
• Use it to start or build your emergency fund.
• Pay down debt so if your situation changes in the future, you have less of a financial burden.
–Pay down debt with the highest interest first
• Support local businesses (take-out restaurants, services and needed products).
• Donate some for a tax deduction.

If your income has been impacted, you should:
• Apply for unemployment and other benefits for which you qualify.
• The Florida Keys United Way has lots of information on local, state and national benefits
• Check on Federal and state benefits here.
• Check for SNAP (food assistance) eligibility here.

• Cancel any subscription services and automatic payments
–Try the app TrueBill to review your subscriptions and other recurring charges, and help you cancel them.

• Take stock of your fixed expenses – make a list of your monthly required expenses like rent, utilities, internet, auto loan, etc.
–Communicate with lenders/landlord/service providers – very important! They can’t work with you if they don’t know you are having a problem. .
–Which payments can be delayed or deferred, and will there be a fee for this? This doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay, it means you get a grace period and will pay it later.

• Review needs versus wants and make sure you are meeting the needs first.
• Meal plan and buy staples that are filling and tend to stretch further (rice, potatoes, beans, eggs).
• Invest in yourself, start a side gig.
• Avoid convenience services if possible (meal delivery and shopping services usually include extra fees.
• Consider bartering with friends and neighbors while still distancing responsibly.

Other things to consider:
• If your bank is required to garnish your wages (for child support or debt collection) they may come out of the stimulus funds.
• If you owe overdraft or other fees, the bank will collect that out of the funds.

No matter what your situation, remember:

• This is temporary
• We are all in this together
• Don’t overbuy!
• The best things in life aren’t things

A spending plan is a really good tool for getting a handle on your income, especially when it has changed. For a step by step guide on how to make create your own spending plan, go here.

Written by UF-IFAS Agents: Carol Roberts and Alicia Betancourt

For more information about work and finance in Covid-19 check out these blogs;

Staying Motivated at Work and in Crisis

Assess and Build Resilience in Your Community Programs

How to Work from Home Without Losing Your Mind (mostly)

Everyone Has Their New Normal

Find us on Face Book!


Alicia Betancourt, Community and Family Development Extension Agent and County Extension Director for UF/IFAS Extension Monroe County
Posted: April 17, 2020

Category: Home Management, Money Matters, UF/IFAS Extension, Work & Life
Tags: Budget, COVID-19, Florida Keys, Stimulus

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