States now paying out stimulus checks
Distribution of California's new round of stimulus began on Friday, with Newsom telling taxpayers in a video message to "look out for checks either in your mailbox or directly in your account." The nation's most populous state is using its own money to make the payments — not federal funds.
Quirks in the state's tax system, the record-shattering stock market and other factors have left California with a huge budget surplus, which it has tapped to send cash to residents earning $75,000 or less. An earlier wave primarily went to those making $30,000 or less.
The new payments are giving California residents $500 to $1,100, depending on immigration status and whether they have children. Checks are being issued automatically, to Californians who filed 2020 tax returns.
In recognition of the special difficulties teachers have had navigating their way through the pandemic, Florida has been doling out $1,000 checks to its educators.
The Sunshine State also is paying first responders — including law enforcement officers, paramedics, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and firefighters — up to $1,000 as an acknowledgment of the many sacrifices they've been making throughout the crisis.
New Mexico’s stimulus program devoted $5 million to helping low-income residents who weren’t eligible for federal stimulus checks. More than 4,000 households across the state received up to $750 in emergency financial assistance.
The state's Human Services Department said in an early August news release that the entire $5 million was not paid out, so a second round of checks would be issued "within the next couple of months."
Earlier this year, Tennessee's state legislature passed a bill providing teachers with hazard pay for making it through the worst of the pandemic.
Lawmakers had originally proposed a 2% raise for educators, but it was ultimately replaced with a one-time payment of $1,000 for full-time teachers. Part-timers will receive $500. It's expected the checks will be mailed out by the end of this year.
While there’s no statewide program for COVID relief payments in Texas, some local school districts are providing their employees with stimulus checks in the form of retention bonuses.
In the Dallas suburb of Irving, the bonus is as much as $2,000. In nearby Denton, teachers will receive $500 and a 2% pay increase if they return to work in the fall, for the 2021-2022 school year. Several Texas school districts have approved pay raises for educators instead of direct payments.
States that previously paid out stimulus checks
The "Colorado Comeback," which Gov. Jared Polis announced last fall, included $375 checks for residents who received at least one unemployment payment between March 15 and Oct. 24 of last year.
The payments targeted lower-income households and weren't available to anyone who qualified for more than $500 a week in base unemployment benefits. Some 408,000 people got the money, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said.
Georgia opted to give its full-time teachers and administrators $1,000 stimulus payments, described as "thank you" bonuses. Part-time educators got $500.
The Peach State also provided $1,000 bonuses to 57,000 state employees earning $80,000 or less.
Early this year, Maryland handed out stimulus checks to low- to moderate-income households. The payments provided $500 to families and $300 to individuals who qualified for the earned income tax credit in 2020.
And, in a breathtaking move, officials repealed all state and local taxes on unemployment benefits for Maryland residents. Combine that with the federal government's big tax break on unemployment payments, and many who received unemployment in Maryland last year have enjoyed big tax savings.
Late last year, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced "MI Classroom Heroes" grants totaling $53 million in hazard pay for teachers and another $20 million to recognize school support staff.
Checks of $500 and $250 for teachers and school staffers were to be mailed out to qualified applicants by the end of February.
New York provided stimulus checks to undocumented immigrants who were disqualified from receiving the federal relief payments.
In April, the state set aside $2.1 billion to give nearly 300,000 undocumented workers stimulus payments of up to $15,600 — provided they could show they lost earnings because of the pandemic and earned less than $26,000 in 2020.
What if your state isn’t offering extra stimulus?
If you don't qualify for a state stimulus check or your state isn't offering them, you have a few options to find relief on your own.
Deal with your debt. Credit is convenient, but it doesn't take long before expensive interest catches up with you. If you're juggling multiple credit card balances and other high-interest debt, fold them into a single debt consolidation loan to pay off what you owe faster and more affordably.
Cut your insurance bills. If you haven’t shopped around for a better rate on your car insurance lately, you might be paying hundreds of dollars too much each year. A little comparison shopping could slash your auto premiums. The same trick also works well for finding a lower rate on homeowners insurance.
Stretch every dollar. Can you drop subscription services you're not using? Can you downgrade your phone plan to save a few dollars every month? And finally, are you getting the best deals when you shop online? If you're not sure about that last one, download a free browser extension that automatically scours the internet for better prices and coupons.
Turn your pennies into a portfolio. Earn some returns in the red-hot stock market, even if you don’t have much money or much experience with investing. A wildly popular app can help you invest just your "spare change" from everyday purchases — and turn your pennies into a diversified portfolio.