Nearly 2.8 million petition for fourth check

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Many Americans are eager for a fourth stimulus check. Search traffic for the term "fourth stimulus check" remains elevated, according to Google Trends, and now around 2.79 million people have signed an online petition calling for more relief.

The goal of 3 million signatures comes closer each week for the petition, which asks Congress for "a $2,000 payment for adults and a $1,000 payment for kids immediately, and continuing regular checks for the duration of the crisis."

The campaign was started by Stephanie Bonin, a restaurant owner in Denver. After losing income during the pandemic, Bonin says she and her employees are still straining to pay the bills and stay out of poverty.

"Supplying Americans with monthly support until they can get back on their feet can save our communities from financial ruin," she writes.

Democrats push for additional payments

In census surveys, most people willing to given an answer have indicated they spent their most recent, third stimulus check on basic needs including food, rent, mortgage payments and utilities.

Though some used the cash to invest in the white-hot stock market, others bought nonessential but necessary goods like clothing — and, possibly, affordable life insurance. Demand for policies has soared amid the pandemic.

Democrats have been calling for stimulus payments to last the entirety of the pandemic since before the last COVID-19 aid bill was passed in March. One of the leading proponents of additional checks, Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, introduced a new plan on July 31.

"We as a nation have the ability to make sure everyone has their basic needs like food, housing and health care met," Ilhan said in a news release as she unveiled legislation to provide monthly guaranteed income of up to $1,200 for adults, $600 for kids.

Could new budget bill include fourth check?

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In May, seven members of the influential House Ways and Means Committee wrote a letter urging President Joe Biden to include direct payments in his "American Families Plan," much of which is now wrapped into a $3.5 trillion budget bill working its way through the U.S. Senate.

The Ways and Means members said the last $1,400 check was not enough to get households through the year. A fourth and fifth stimulus check, the signers argued, could keep an additional 12 million people out of poverty.

The families plan included new funding for child care, education and health care. Democrats are trying to push it and more of the president's agenda through Congress using an arcane budget process that would allow passage with simple House and Senate majorities — meaning no Republican votes would be needed.

The same fast-tracking was used in March to pass the last stimulus check and the rest of Biden's COVID rescue package, which faced universal opposition from Republicans. But so far there's no plan to try to roll a new stimulus check into the massive budget bill, despite the push from the Ways and Means lawmakers.

Factors working against another stimulus check

Some of Congress' more conservative Democrats had qualms with the third stimulus check and would likely be even more leery about a fourth. To win over moderate Senate Democrats, eligibility for the last direct payments had to be "targeted" away from higher earners.

One reason the moderates might question whether an additional stimulus check is necessary is that some 35 million American families are already receiving monthly relief payments through the end of this year, under a temporary expansion of the child tax credit.

Eligible households are getting up to $250 for every child ages 6 to 17, and as much as $300 for each kid under 6, through December. The first payments went out on July 15, and the IRS is scheduled to distribute the second on Friday (Aug. 13).

Couples qualify if they earn $150,000 or less and have children 17 and under. The same goes for single parents who make no more than $75,000.

If you need more stimulus now

Middle-aged family having difficulties with paying utility bills and rent
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Need more help now, and can't wait for Washington to come through with more aid? Here are several ways to find some money on your own.

  • Refinance your mortgage. If you’re a homeowner and haven't refinanced your loan in the last year, you could be missing out on some game-changing savings. Now that the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgages is under 3% again, mortgage data and technology provider Black Knight recently said over 15 million homeowners could save an average $298 a month with a refi.

  • Dominate your debt. Credit cards may have been a life-saver during the pandemic, but the high interest costs can really bang up your budget. You can pay off your debts more quickly and affordably by rolling your balances into a lower-interest debt consolidation loan.

  • Reduce your insurance costs. Because so many people have been driving less in the wake of COVID, some car insurance companies are cutting premiums or offering their customers discounts. If your insurer isn’t one of them, it may be time to shop around for a better rate.

  • Find creative ways to save. Cancel streaming services and any other monthly subscriptions you're not using. Resist the urge to order dinner deliveries, plan out homecooked meals, and go to the grocery store with a list you'll stick to. And, download a free browser add-on that will automatically hunt for better prices and coupons whenever you shop online.

  • Turn your pocket change into profits. You don't need another stimulus check to get in on today’s record-breaking stock market action. A popular app allows you to invest in a diversified portfolio by using nothing more than "spare change" from your everyday purchases.

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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