Jan 06, 2021
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About this Deal
Wed, January 6, 2021, 7:16 PM EST
About nine months after Americans received their first coronavirus aid payments from the government, new $600 "stimulus checks" started going out last week — after a last-ditch effort to raise the amount to $2,000 failed.
But President-elect Joe Biden hasn't given up on bigger direct payments, and on Monday he said $2,000 checks could "go out the door" soon.
That scenario is suddenly looking more possible, but it's not yet anything you can count on. So if your finances are still strained by COVID and you're disappointed with the $600, you'll probably want to keep looking for more money on your own.
The final results from Georgia favor a new round of checks
Biden made his remarks about $2,000 checks at a campaign rally in Georgia, where two Republican U.S. senators were trying to hold on to their seats in runoff elections held on Tuesday.
Both races have now been called for the Democratic challengers, which flips control of the Senate from the Republicans to the Democrats and gives Biden's party majorities in both houses of Congress. That could make it easier for his proposals — like $2,000 stimulus checks — to become reality.
"That money will go out the door immediately to help people who are in real trouble" if the Democrats were to win both runoffs, Biden said at the rally.
Many struggling consumers have been eager for the government to keep sending cash. Americans largely used their first stimulus payments for basics like groceries and utility bills, a survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found.
Some also invested the money, the survey said, or used it to meet various other needs. Those may have included buying affordable life insurance, as sales of life insurance policies have surged amid the pandemic.
It's important to note that several Republican senators supported the recent bid to boost the current $600 payments to $2,000. But the proposal was blocked by Senate Republican leaders.
What if you need more than $600 right now?
But Biden isn't scheduled to take office until Jan. 20. So, if there will be fresh relief payments, you're not likely to get one until February, at the earliest*.
If you need more help right now than the latest $600 checks, here are a few ideas to pull together some money on your own:
Reduce your spending where you can. Cut loose any subscription services you're not using. Do more of your own cooking and stop ordering carryout so much. And download a free browser add-on that will save you money every time you shop online by instantly checking for better prices and coupons.
Cut the cost of your debt. If you’ve been leaning on your credit cards during the coronavirus crisis, you're probably piling up a mountain of interest. Rein in your credit card debt — and make it go away more quickly — by rolling your balances into a single debt consolidation loan at a lower interest rate.
Stop paying too much for insurance. As Americans have cut back on their driving this year, many car insurance companies have lowered their rates. But if your insurer won’t give you a break, it’s time to shop around for a better option. You also might save hundreds on your homeowners insurance by comparing rates to find a better deal.
Refinance your mortgage and slash your payments. Mortgage rates are the lowest in history, and refinancing your existing home loan could provide huge savings. Mortgage tech and data provider Black Knight says 19.4 million U.S. homeowners could cut their monthly house payments by an average $308 per month through a refi.