New checks given high priority

Extreme close-up of Federal coronavirus stimulus check provided to all Americans from the United States Treasury in 2020, showing the statue of liberty.
William Sawalich / Shutterstock

Biden has announced a wide-ranging $1.9 trillion COVID rescue package, containing the new stimulus checks. He says the recent $600 payments were "simply not enough."

"You just have to choose between paying rent and putting food on the table," Biden said in a speech outlining his proposal.

The first $1,200 relief payments Americans received last spring were largely spent on expenses for just getting by, including groceries and rent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has said.

A bureau survey also found some people invested the cash or used it for various other purposes. Those may have included buying affordable life insurance — sales of policies have surged amid the pandemic.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the U.S. House is fast-tracking Biden's plan, with House committees expected to vote on it this week. It will be "completely ready" for the full House to pass the following week, Pelosi says.

What's the possible timing on 3rd checks?

Meanwhile, the Senate is faced with holding an impeachment trial for Trump, though that's on hold for a couple of weeks. Biden says the delay will help get new coronavirus aid "up and running," so some movement on the stimulus checks is likely this week.

But the Democrats' new majority in the Senate is as thin as can be, and even a few Democrats may balk at parts of the Biden COVID plan, including his call to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15.

Some members of the party are already talking about a potential plan B if there's a struggle to pass the president's entire aid package. They say the $1,400 direct payments and money for vaccine distribution could be pulled out into a separate bill that might win quick approval, maybe with support from Republicans.

If both the House and Senate are able to approve the new stimulus checks early next month — which is indeed possible — you could receive yours by late February. But if there are any snags — and those are also possible — you might have to wait until March or even April.

What if you need more money right now?

Unhappy Family Sitting On Sofa Looking At Bills
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

If COVID is battering your budget and you need additional cash right now, here are a few ways to scrounge up some money on your own:

  • Find creative ways to save. Cut ties with any subscription services you're not using. Do more of your own cooking and stop your occasional dinner deliveries. And download a free browser add-on that will automatically hunt for better prices and coupons whenever you shop online.

  • Shrink the cost of your debt. If you’ve been relying on your credit cards more than usual during the COVID crisis, you're probably piling up interest. Take control of your credit card debt — and make it go away more quickly — by rolling your balances into a single, lower-interest debt consolidation loan.

  • Stop wasting money on insurance. Since many of us are driving less during the pandemic, car insurance companies have been giving price breaks. If your insurer is one of the stingy ones, shop around for a better policy. And, you could save hundreds on your homeowners insurance by comparing rates to find a lower price.

  • Refinance your mortgage and slash your payments. Mortgage rates have been lower than ever, so refinancing your existing home loan could provide major savings. Mortgage tech and data provider Black Knight says 19.4 million U.S. homeowners could cut their housing 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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