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
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