'Crisis is only deepening'

WASHINGTON DC - MARCH 30, 2020:  United States Treasury check surrounded by US currency. Illustration of COVID stimulus check.
Jason Raff / Shutterstock

The White House says up to 8 million Americans still haven't gotten the $1,200 stimulus payments that were direct-deposited into bank accounts or mailed out as checks and debit cards last spring.

Another batch of cash, in the amount of $600, started going out in late December. Many people haven't received that money either.

The president on Friday signed two executive orders aimed at giving families and workers more help to deal with the pandemic. One of the orders tells the Treasury Department it needs to step it up stimulus checks, by finding new tools and methods to get any delayed payments out promptly.

"The crisis is only deepening," Biden said at the White House, before he put pen to paper. "We're in a national emergency. We need to act like we're in a national emergency — so we've got to move."

An attempt to fix things before more checks go out

Most Americans spent last spring's initial stimulus checks on basic expenses needed to get by, including groceries and rent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says.

A bureau survey found that others invested the cash or used it for unspecified financial priorities. Those may have included buying affordable life insurance — sales of policies have surged during the current health crisis.

The new administration wants to clean up the process of distributing direct COVID aid before a potential third round of money goes out.

Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion pandemic rescue package that would give most Americans another $1,400 — essentially to bump up the latest, $600 payments to $2,000. A push by former President Donald Trump and Democrats to raise those checks to $2,000 died in Congress during the final days of 2020.

If you didn't get your money either of the first two times, did you move or change your bank account? The IRS says those are common reasons it has trouble getting people their "economic impact payments."

What if you just can't wait any longer?

Couple having problem with bills and money.
Liderina / Shutterstock

If you've been waiting and waiting for stimulus cash and are in a desperate financial situation, here are ways to scrounge up some money on your own:

  • Reduce your spending, where possible. Cut loose any subscription services you're not using. Do more of your own cooking and don't order carryout so much. And download a free browser add-on that will help you save every time you shop online, by instantly checking for better prices and coupons.

  • Cut the cost of your debt. If you’ve been leaning heavily on credit cards during the COVID crisis, you've probably racked up a pile of interest. Shrink your credit card debt — and make it go away more quickly — by rolling your balances into a single debt consolidation loan at a lower interest rate.

  • Stop paying too much for insurance. Many car insurers have lowered their rates because Americans are staying home more and driving less. If your insurance company won’t give you a break, it’s time to shop around for a cheaper policy. You also might save hundreds on your homeowners insurance by comparing rates to find a better deal.

  • Refinance your mortgage and lower your payments. Mortgage rates have been the lowest in history, and refinancing your existing home loan can provide huge savings. Mortgage tech and data provider Black Knight says 19.4 million U.S. homeowners could cut their monthly house payments by an average $308 per month through a refi.

About the Author

Doug Whiteman

Doug Whiteman

Editor-in-Chief

Doug Whiteman is the editor-in-chief of MoneyWise. He has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and CNBC.com and has been interviewed on Fox Business, CBS Radio and the syndicated TV show "First Business."

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