Money·3 min read

DIY Stimulus: What to Do While You Wait for Congress

October 6, 2020

In March, President Trump signed the CARES Act to help ease the financial pain from COVID-19. (Remember those $1,200 checks?) It gave the economy a boost, but experts – including Fed chair Jerome Powell – say Americans need more.

Here’s how to take matters (and your financial future) into your own hands.

Do you have student loans?

  • If Uncle Sam is your lender, your monthly payments are probably paused through December. You could use that money to pay bills, save or work toward another goal. Extra credit: keep paying your loans to make a bigger dent in the balance before the gov starts charging interest again in 2021.

  • If you have private loans, check if refinancing can save you money. Find out if your bank offers discounts for signing up for auto-pay.

Do you have other debt?

  • Call your lender and see if they’re following the gov’s lead by offering interest breaks on credit cards, car loans, and mortgages.

  • Ask what else they can do. Like waiving fees or extending your loan term to lower your regular payment.

Does your emergency fund need some love?

  • Trim your budget to grow it faster – so you’ll be prepared no matter what comes next. Canceling unused subscriptions and grocery-shopping smarter are good places to start.

  • Keep it in the right spot. As in, far away from your checking account. 

Do you have more time (since everything is canceled)?

Are you struggling to pay the bills?

  • Look into state rental and utility assistance programs.

  • Go greener. Switching to energy-efficient light bulbs, running the dishwasher at night (during off-peak hours), and plugging your electronics into advanced power strips can lower your utility bills.

  • Hit up your cable, internet, and phone providers to negotiate a better rate. Or cut out “extras” (like premiums TV channels you don’t watch) to save.

  • See if your bank has a forbearance program that will let you freeze your payments for a while. You can also work with a housing counselor to avoid default or foreclosure. 


Trimming your budget, earning a little extra, and asking for help where you need it can help you get some relief...on your terms.

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