Monthly stimulus checks for families start up soon
Starting July 15, the IRS will send out monthly payments to households, under a temporary expansion of the child tax credit that was included in the COVID stimulus bill President Joe Biden signed in March.
For six months, families will receive $250 for each child ages 6 to 17, and $300 for every kid younger than 6.
The checks will provide half the expanded credit for 2021. The rest can be taken as refunds when recipients file income taxes next year.
The full credit is worth $3,000 for 6- to 17-year-olds, and $3,600 for every child under 6. The usual maximum credit is $2,000 per kid, and only up to age 16.
If your family has filed your taxes this year, the IRS should have enough information to give you your child credit payments. If you don’t normally file a return, the tax agency recently launched a non-filer sign-up tool you can use to make sure you get whatever child tax credit funds you qualify for.
Homeowners can get stimulus checks
Though the pandemic ushered in ultra-low mortgage rates that have showered many homeowners with refinance savings, others are still struggling to make their house payments.
If you're having trouble staying current on your mortgage and worry you might be headed for delinquency or even foreclosure, the government has money to help.
Biden's COVID rescue package from March created a $10 billion homeowner assistance fund. A minimum $50 million has been appropriated for each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
To get your share of the mortgage relief, you’ll have to provide evidence you’re under financial stress due to COVID. You're eligible if you earn no more than 150% of your area’s median income, and if your loan balance doesn't exceed $548,250.
You apply for the homeowners assistance through your state's housing agency.
Stimulus cash is available for renters, too
In the two most recent pandemic relief bills — the one from March and an earlier one signed in December — Congress approved a total of $46.6 billion in emergency aid for tenants who can’t afford to pay rent.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition calls the amount of support available for renters "unprecedented."
You can receive help if you’re able to provide proof that you’re struggling to pay rent or utilities because of the pandemic, and that you’re facing a risk of homelessness.
Renters who qualify can get up to 18 months of assistance to cover both missed and future rent. In one state, eligible renters can receive as much as $4,600 a month; in another, they can get lump sums of up to $25,000.
The funds are being distributed by more than 400 state and local agencies.
What about a real fourth stimulus check?
U.S. senators, members of the influential House Ways and Means Committee and millions of petition signers all have made the case that many Americans still require financial assistance due to ongoing disruptions from the pandemic.
Some want another, conventional stimulus check. Others have called for regular checks of $2,000, and many are asking that automatic checks be sent out automatically in response to certain financial triggers.
Getting any more direct payments through Congress would not be easy, given the growing signs that the country may be turning the corner in its fight against COVID.
So far, Congress hasn't taken any action on a fourth check. Though White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said Biden is "open" to the idea, the president is focused right now on rounding up votes for his infrastructure package and his "families plan."
Other ways to find relief
If you’re not eligible for the family stimulus checks or the others, you still have plenty of ways to dig up additional cash while Washington sorts out whether there will be another garden-variety stimulus payment.
If you’re carrying multiple credit card balances and other high-interest debt, sweep them into a single debt consolidation loan. You’ll have only one payment to budget around, and the lower interest rate will slash the cost of your debt and help you pay it off faster.
If you’re a homeowner who hasn’t refinanced your mortgage in the past year, you could be missing out on game-changing savings. With mortgage rates under 3% again, mortgage technology and data provider Black Knight estimates that over 14 million Americans could save an average $287 a month by refinancing.
Take a look at what you’re paying for insurance. A little comparison shopping could save you a ton when the time comes to renew or buy homeowners insurance. Shopping around also works well for finding a lower rate on car insurance.
Prices can be all over the place when you shop online. Avoid paying too much by downloading a free browser add-on that will automatically hunt for lower prices and coupons before you click "buy."
Finally, you don't need another "stimmy" to earn returns in today’s red-hot stock market. A wildly popular app helps you invest in a diversified portfolio using little more than your "spare change" from everyday purchases.