Have your Stimulus Check?

ValleyStar Credit Union, a long term partner of REAL LIFE, recently led a very important group for Lifers on the recently issued stimulus checks and how to properly budget the influx of cash. Money is a ‘trigger’ for many individuals who have recently stopped using drugs or alcohol; often cash in hand is what leads people back to ‘old ways’, especially during hard times! As such, being proactive in presenting this information was critically important. 

ValleyStar’s Rachael Williams shared great info (no shock, if you know Rachael)! Here are some key points!

It’s not free money! The U.S. government is distributing money because they want to alleviate the financial hardship being experienced by Americans right now and want to prevent the economy from going into a recession. Thw check is intended to help people pay their bills if their business has shut down or if they are currently unemployed.

Eligibility for the stimulus check is based on who filed their taxes in 2018-2019. Adults (up to a certain income threshold) should receive $1,200 and children $500. Checks are predicted to be distributed within the next 3-4 weeks, so the end of May would be the latest time to expect. If direct deposit is set up through an employer or the IRS, you will receive a direct deposit check; if not, you will receive a paper check in the mail.

However, there have been cases of fraudulent checks! Real checks from the U.S. Treasury will have a Treasury Seal that says “Financial Management Service” that was specifically designed for this stimulus event. The bottom of the check should also have an imprint that reads “Economic Impact Payment, President Donald J. Trump”. The final thing to look for is a watermark that says “U.S. Treasury.”

This check is intended to help those who are living paycheck to paycheck, or to provide extra emergency money for those who are still able to work. It is not meant to be extra spending money for personal things. ValleyStar stresses that the 4 Walls (food, utilities, shelter, transportation) be the priority when receiving a stimulus check this large.

  1. This check should be used to maintain food security. 
  2. Try to keep up with utilities, because they will eventually catch up with you. Even smaller payments at a time will be helpful because utility companies will ask for all the months you owe once the grace period is over.
  3. Keep paying your rent, because you will be responsible for all of it, same as utilities. Deferred payments most likely be due all at the same time.
  4. Keep up with car payments also! Even if payments are not due, loans will gather interest and become a bigger bill in the future.

Again, it is important to budget and keep track of your expenses, so that the stimulus check can be put to good use. If your 4 Walls are secure try not to spend it on other things. It is best to save for the future in case of any other unforeseen emergencies or paying other debts, like a credit card, driver’s license fees, or court fines.

In terms of saving your money, Rachael recommends several things:

  1. Put it in a savings account. You will be less likely to spend it if it is not physically available. It will also earn interest.
  2. Keeping your money in an organization, like a credit union, will give you access to things like online banking and automatic bill payments.

For information on how you will be receiving your check please visit: irs.gov/coronavirus

Information about ValleyStar Credit Union: Their mission is to educate their members on financial topics and current issues so they can make informed decisions about money. ValleyStar also offers one-on-one budgeting appointments, where they will teach you how to efficiently manage your money.