1. The stimulus checks
Under Biden, the IRS has been distributing the pandemic’s third round of stimulus checks — for up to $1,400 each.
“There’s been a large scope in differences on where that money gets used," notes Alex Reffett, principal and co-founder of financial advisory firm East Paces Group.
“You see a lot of the Reddit trading and newer investors that are in a position to use that stimulus money to invest it, where others are going to use it to make ends meet," Reffett says.
Indeed, many consumers have put their checks toward covering household expenses or paying down debt.
Even more payments could be on their way. Advocacy groups and congressional Democrats have been urging Biden to support regular stimulus checks until the pandemic is over, to help families put food on their tables and encourage spending.
2. Mortgage aid
To help the millions of borrowers behind on their home loans, the White House set aside nearly $10 billion from the stimulus bill to help U.S. homeowners pay their mortgages, taxes, utilities, insurance and other housing costs.
Also, homeowners with federally backed loans have been able to pause their payments for as long as 18 months through the government’s mortgage forbearance program. And, Biden has extended a federal ban on foreclosures through June.
Some experts worry about unintended consequences. Siri Terjesen, a management professor and associate dean at Florida Atlantic University, says mortgage forbearance and the foreclosure moratorium have worsened the already low supply of houses for sale, which has driven home prices sky high.
Terjesen warns of significant price corrections once the protections expire: "We’re really headed for a crash once those loans are all called in."
Homeowners with burdensome monthly payments still have opportunities to shrink them by refinancing. With mortgage rates still historically low, some 13 million mortgage holders could save an average $283 a month with a refi, the mortgage data and technology firm Black Knight recently reported.
3. Student loan forgiveness
So far this year, Biden has forgiven $2.3 billion in federal student loans, affecting 113,000 borrowers. And, the coronavirus aid bill he signed in March included a provision making canceled student loans tax-free until 2026. Normally, forgiven debts are taxed as income.
Still, lawmakers and advocacy groups want Biden to take a bigger step. They're urging him to use executive authority to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student debt per borrower. The president has expressed doubt about his ability to do that without Congress, but he has asked his Education Department to take a look.
Terjesen questions the potential implications.
“If we have one family that scrimps and saves and doesn’t take out loans, and we have another family that doesn’t and takes out loans but then those other loans are forgiven, is that going to induce people to be more responsible financially? I don’t think so," she says.
Some borrowers may seek relief by refinancing their student loans at one of today's ultra-low interest rates. A refinance would involve taking out a new loan from a private lender, which would then be outside the range of any federal student loan forgiveness.
4. New health insurance discounts
Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief package included the first major expansion of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, since it became law in 2010.
New Obamacare subsidies, which went into effect in April, mean anyone making more than $51,000 a year can save around $1,000 more per month on coverage.
The Department of Health and Human Services has estimated that about 6.8 million Americans are now eligible for coverage on Healthcare.gov with no premiums at all, and that 1.3 million can buy plans for under $50 a month.
Biden also reopened the Obamacare enrollment window until Aug. 15, so if you're looking for an affordable health insurance plan you've got plenty of time to shop and take advantage of the new discounts.
5. Monthly money for families
Biden's pandemic rescue bill included stimulus checks of another sort for families: monthly payments that are scheduled to go out from July through December as part of a temporary, one-year expansion of the child tax credit.
Every household with children that qualified for the last stimulus check is set to receive the child credit money.
If you file taxes as an individual and earn under $75,000, or are part of a couple making less than $150,000, you should get $250 a month later this year for each of your kids ages 6 to 17. For children under 6, you’ll receive $300.
The money can be used however you like: to pay bills, buy food or even get the kids into investing. One popular app would allow a family to grow a portfolio merely by investing “spare change.”
Biden is now proposing to extend the beefier child credit through 2025, as part of a "families plan" — to be paid for with tax increases on the wealthiest Americans. Meanwhile, other Democrats want to make the child credit changes (and, presumably, the monthly payments) permanent.
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