As the nation prepares to receive the CARES Act stimulus checks from the U.S. Treasury, now is the time to think carefully about the intended purpose of the payments and determine the best use of the funds for your household. The facts surrounding this complex legislation, signed by President Trump on March 27, can be found here (https://home.treasury.gov/fedresponse), so we won’t rehash those details. Our goal today is to provide some useful information and suggestions, so you can make the best decisions for your family’s budget.
Let’s start with the most important factor – keeping a roof over your head. Even if it sounds like the government is telling you that you don’t have to pay your rent and evictions are prohibited, at least for the short term – pay your rent. Your landlord still has bills to pay (real estate taxes, utility bills, mortgage payments, etc.) Once the ban on evictions is lifted (and it will be, at some point), you don’t want to be in an unpaid position.
It’s pretty much the same for homeowners with a mortgage loan. Your home is your greatest asset and you need to do everything you can to maintain the mortgage payments, insurance, and taxes. There are plenty of available options that will allow you to defer payments, sometimes up to six months and beyond. Check with your FKCB Mortgage Loan Consultant for specifics. We’re here to help. (On a side note, keep in mind that “deferment” doesn’t mean the payments go away. It just means they will be due and payable at a later date.)
Pay any amount you can toward your utility payments. The utility companies may also be kind enough to suspend your monthly payments, but you could get hit with a large, overwhelming bill once they resume a normal schedule.
Lastly, and certainly not the least important item on your list, are your other financial obligations, such as car loans, credit cards, and installment loans. With your credit cards, make at least the minimum payment amount due to avoid any negative impact to your credit score. Other types of loans are just as important, and once again, talking with your lender may open up some options to keep you behind the wheel and in control of your finances.
If you do need to spend some of the stimulus funds beyond your monthly bills, try to deal with local merchants and small businesses. They’re hurting the most and need your help.
The purpose of the stimulus check is to help you PAY YOUR BILLS while the world is getting back to normal. It’s not the same as a lottery check that’s burning a hole in your pocket. Today is not the day to make impulse purchases. Of course, there’s no one looking over your shoulder to tell you what to do with the funds, but there are a few logical things to consider. The decisions you make now can keep you in a financially stable position so you’re able to quickly and comfortably resume your pre-COVID19 lifestyle.
Your First Keystone Community Banker is on duty and available to help you through the difficult days ahead. Now is the time to be “Keystone Strong.”