An initial deadline looms late this month

The United States Capitol building at sunset, Washington DC, USA.
Lucky-photographer / Shutterstock

In Milwaukee on Tuesday for a CNN town hall, Biden addressed Republican critics who say his pandemic proposal is too massive and too expensive. "Now is the time we should be spending," the president said. "Now is the time to go big."

In addition to the $1,400 stimulus checks, the package includes a wide variety of other relief, including $400 a week in extra unemployment benefits.

The aid is expected to help alleviate immediate financial pressures for struggling households. Last spring, most recipients spent their first $1,200 stimulus check on essential needs, including groceries and rent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has said.

A portion of the cash also was used for saving and investing, a bureau survey found, or for other, unspecified things — possibly to buy affordable life insurance, because demand for life insurance policies has surged amid COVID-19.

Back in Washington, the House Budget Committee this week is putting together a final bill for the full House to vote on next week. Democratic leaders want the vote to occur on Friday Feb. 26 (smaller deadline), though lawmakers have been warned the work could carry over into the weekend.

Democrats have Biden’s plan propelling down the fast lane using a special, streamlined process that would allow it to pass Congress with simple majorities — and potentially no Republicans on board.

When are you likely to get another stimulus check?

After the House, the action shifts to the Senate, where Democrats hold power by the slimmest possible margin and will need every vote from their side. But West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is a big question mark.

Manchin has voiced support for dropping the income limit for stimulus checks. Individuals earning up to $75,000 were eligible for a full payment in the last two rounds, but Manchin has said he wants proof that someone making $75,000 is needy enough to receive the entire $1,400 this time.

If Democratic Senate leaders can keep Manchin in the fold, they may try to send the legislation directly to the Senate floor, with no committee votes, according to the Washington newsletter Punchbowl News.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the goal is to have a bill on the president's desk in time to avoid a lapse in bonus unemployment money for millions of Americans. The existing federal booster benefits expire on Sunday March 14 (big deadline).

Provided there are no unexpected roadblocks — and Biden is able to sign the bill during the first part of March — the IRS could start churning out stimulus check payments within days. That means you might receive your next infusion of cash as soon as mid-March.

What if you need your next stimulus check right away?

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

But that timing is still at least a month away, which is too long when you have bills piling up right now. If you can't wait and need more money immediately, here are a few ways to find cash in the meantime.

  • Cut the cost of your debt. Has your credit card been carrying you through the pandemic? If so, the interest is probably starting to weigh you down. Get your debt organized — and make it go away faster — by folding your balances into a single debt consolidation loan at lower interest.

  • Shrink your insurance bills. If you’re not driving as much because of the pandemic, your car insurance company may be willing to give you a discount on your rate. Is your insurer being stingy? That’s easy enough — just shop around for a better deal. And while you’re at it, you might save hundreds on your homeowners insurance by comparing rates to find a lower price on that coverage.

  • Refinance your mortgage (if you've got one) and slash your payments. When was the last time you refinanced your home loan? If it’s been more than a year, you’re overdue. Rates have been the lowest ever, so refinance your existing mortgage and reap big savings. An estimated 16.7 million U.S. homeowners could reduce their monthly house payments by an average $303 through a refi, according to mortgage tech and data provider Black Knight

What if you won’t get a stimulus check this time?

Congress is moving ahead with the same income limits on stimulus checks as before — meaning if you got a full payment last time, you'll get one again.

But if it looks as if you aren’t going to receive the full $1,400 check — or one at all — there are a couple of things you can do:

  • File your 2020 taxes immediately. You could qualify for a stimulus check if your income dropped in 2020 due to the pandemic. But since the IRS will base your eligibility on your most recent tax return, you’ll want to get that information in front of the tax agency ASAP. Log into a good tax software program and submit your 2020 return as quickly as you can.

  • Trim your budget and "make your own" stimulus check. By finding a few creative ways to cut back, you can possibly wring out another $1,400 from your current budget. For example, maybe it’s time to permanently log off any streaming services or other monthly subscriptions you’re not actively using. Have a hobby or special talent? Turn it into a side hustle to bring in extra income. And, download a free browser extension that will automatically hunt for better prices and coupons whenever you shop online.

About the Author

Sigrid Forberg

Sigrid Forberg

Staff Writer

Sigrid is a staff writer with MoneyWise. A graduate of Carleton University's journalism program, she spent the better part of the last six years writing about business and retail. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, baking and riding her bicycle.

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