Lawmakers move on to other priorities
Imagine for a second that you’re a member of Congress easing back into work after your summer break. House or Senate — your choice.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, you’ve already voted for or against over $3 trillion in emergency spending.
You’ve watched the unemployment rate tick down from 8.4% in August 2020 to 5.2% in August 2021. The millions of foreclosures and evictions projected at the start of the pandemic haven’t happened.
Sure, millions of people are still struggling, but that's always been the case.
Now let’s look at your schedule post-recess. Back-to-back-to-back-to-back committee meetings, calls and interviews about a whole new wave of crises: Afghanistan, the federal debt ceiling, reproductive rights and the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget proposal. And that’s just Tuesday.
If COVID-19 isn’t threatening to crush the economy again, and there are more job openings than jobless Americans, few can blame you for thinking there are more worthy battles to fight than another one over stimulus checks.
And if anybody gives you flak, you can kindly remind them of the other heavily funded pandemic assistance programs still available to families, renters and homeowners.
Pandemic programs are still on offer
The aid that’s still out there may not be making its way to every American, like it did with the first three stimulus checks, but at this point in the pandemic, many people are doing just fine.
For the tens of millions who aren't, these three targeted programs are still available:
- The expanded Child Tax Credit, which provides families up to $3,600 per child through a combination of advanced payments and a more traditional tax credit.
- Over $46 billion in emergency rental assistance. As of Aug. 26, only 11% of the allotted funds had been distributed.
- Another $10 billion was set aside to help homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages.
If you’re eligible for any of these programs, you can reach out to the proper entities and get the help you need immediately.
Other ways to help yourself
If you aren’t eligible for the family, renter or homeowner assistance programs, there’s not much point sitting around and waiting for a fourth stimulus check. But a little action on your part can make a big difference in your finances.
If you’re a homeowner and you haven’t refinanced your mortgage in the past year, you could be leaving a lot of money on the table. Zillow recently found that almost half the homeowners who refinanced between April 2020 and April 2021 are now saving $300 or more each month. (And today’s mortgage rates are even lower than what many of those homeowners were offered.)
If you’re carrying multiple credit card balances or other nagging, high-interest debt, consider rolling them into a lower-rate debt consolidation loan. You may be able to shrink the overall cost of your debt and pay it off faster.
There are countless bargains on offer when you’re shopping online, but good luck finding them when you need to. You can avoid paying too much by downloading a free browser add-on that automatically hunts for lower prices and coupons.
Even if you’re short on cash, you can still earn extra income in the stock market. A popular app lets you invest in a diversified portfolio, and you won’t need much more than the "spare change" left over from your everyday purchases.