What’s taking so long?
Republicans and Democrats disagree on a number of issues regarding the next stimulus package — everything from unemployment benefits to the language the government uses when talking about the virus.
However, the most divisive issue has been the size and scope of the relief package itself.
Speaker Pelosi has been working to negotiate a package worth between $1.8 trillion and $2.2 trillion. That would see most Americans get another $1,200 payment, plus an additional $500 per dependent.
Republican lawmakers, on the other hand, are pushing for a “skinny” bill worth around $500 billion. It would keep unemployment benefits high but not include a second round of stimulus checks.
In a letter to Secretary Mnuchin on Oct. 29, Speaker Pelosi implored the White House to take action immediately.
“The American people are suffering,” she wrote, “and they want us to come to an agreement to save lives, livelihoods and the life of our American democracy as soon as possible.”
What to do in the meantime
It’s been more than six months since the IRS started sending out the initial round of stimulus checks, and the deadline to claim your payment (if you haven’t done so already) is only a few weeks away.
A survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that close to 60% of Americans used their first check to pay for basic expenses like groceries and utilities.
If you can’t wait until December to maybe get some more money in your pocket, here are some ideas for how you can find an extra $1,200 on your own.
Earn cash back on your groceries. There’s a free app out there that will earn you cash-back rewards on your groceries just by snapping a picture of your receipt. It may not be enough to cover your rent for the month, but when times are tight every extra dollar helps.
Trim down your debt. If you’ve been coasting by on your credit cards during the pandemic, you’re likely racking up a mountain of interest. You may be able to reduce the amount you’re losing — and become debt-free sooner — by rolling your current balances into a single debt consolidation loan at a lower interest rate.
Pay less for insurance. Americans have been driving a lot less this year, and as a result, many car insurance companies have lowered their rates. If your insurer won’t cut you a break, it’s time to start shopping around for a better option. You might also be able to save some money on your homeowners insurance by comparing quotes from multiple companies.
Refinance your mortgage. Mortgage rates are lower than ever right now, and refinancing your current loan could save you a bundle. According to the data firm Black Knight, more than 19 million American homeowners could bring down their payments by around $300 per month with a refi.
Pump the brakes on your spending. Get rid of any subscription services you don’t use. Order in less and prepare more meals at home. And download a free browser extension that will ensure you get the best price available whenever you shop online.
Don’t let your talents go to waste. Got a hobby like writing, drawing or web design? You may be able to turn your talents into extra income by picking up a side gig through an online marketplace. Once you start getting gigs and accumulating positive reviews, you can raise the price of your services and bring in even more money.