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2nd stimulus checks: What's happening?

Stack of 20 dollar bills with US Treasure illustrative check to illustrate coronavirus stimulus payment on white background
Steve Heap / Shutterstock

It's been more than six months since Trump signed the law that gave you your first and so far only stimulus check. (Which most people actually received by direct deposit, not check.)

The typical payment was $1,200, though the amount phased out for Americans with higher incomes. Families received $500 per child, but only up to age 16.

At the start of October, the House approved a new $2.2 trillion bill offering $1,200 for most taxpayers plus $500 per dependent. But not a single Republican voted in favor, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the price tag "outlandish."

While the president was hospitalized with COVID-19, he tweeted: "OUR GREAT USA WANTS & NEEDS STIMULUS. WORK TOGETHER AND GET IT DONE."

Households devastated by layoffs and lockdowns used the earlier cash from Uncle Sam to buy food or pay bills. Americans in better financial shape went splurging, or used the money for more practical purposes like buying affordable life insurance to protect family members if a breadwinner died from the virus.

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How soon could you get more stimulus money?

With unemployment still high and with cooler weather bringing predictions of new infection spikes and new lockdowns, many consumers have been hoping for another payment.

But Trump's latest tweets have left things in a confusing state. When he proclaimed a halt to the COVID relief negotiations, he said that "immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business."

The stock market tanked on the idea of no more talks, so Trump tweeted hours later: "If I am sent a Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200), they will go out to our great people IMMEDIATELY."

He says he's ready to sign. But no one gets another relief payment until negotiators can compromise on a bill that would pass the House and Senate, then reach the president's desk.

So far, there's no stimulus checks proposal working its way through Congress.

If a deal is reached this month, money could start finding its way into Americans pockets in November. If an agreement comes quickly after election — regardless of who wins — it's unlikely new stimulus checks would go out before December.

What do you do in the meantime?

Worried young parent calculating bills at home
GreenMiles / Shutterstock

If your budget is stretched to the limits and you could really use an extra $1,200 right now, here are a few ways to find that cash on your own — and stop waiting for Washington to get its act together.

  • Cut the cost of your debt. If you're carrying high-interest credit cards, gather up those balances into a debt consolidation loan at a lower interest rate. You'll make that debt less expensive and replace multiple monthly payments with just one.
  • Trim your insurance costs. Car insurance companies have been lowering their rates amid the pandemic, but if yours won't cut you a break start shopping around for a better one. And when your homeowners insurance comes due, seek rate quotes from competing insurers and compare them, to get the best deal on coverage.
  • Refinance your mortgage. If you've got a mortgage and haven't refinanced yet in 2020, you're overdue. Thanks to some of the lowest mortgage rates on record, more than 19 million homeowners have the potential to reduce their monthly payments by around $300 through a refi, says data firm Black Knight.
  • Clamp down on your monthly spending. Consider dropping your cable and using a less expensive streaming service instead. Fight the temptation to order delivery for dinner and make meals in your own kitchen. And, download a free browser extension that will find you the best price every time you shop online.
  • Pick up a side hustle. Make some extra money by getting yourself a side gig. Turn a hobby into a source of income, or use an online marketplace to find someone eager to pay for your talents and skills.

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Doug Whiteman Former Editor-in-Chief

Doug Whiteman was formerly 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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