Congress is focused right now on President Joe Biden’s pushes to spend massive money on roads, bridges and social programs — and on trying to head off a government shutdown.
One thing that’s not on lawmakers’ crowded agenda is any plan to give Americans their fourth stimulus check of the pandemic. Congress has moved on from that idea, though advocates and everyday Americans have not.
The nonprofit Senior Citizens League this month started a pressure campaign to provide older people with $1,400 stimulus checks, to help them cope with “soaring inflation.” Meanwhile, an online petition calling for $2,000 checks per month for all Americans is about to hit 2.9 million signatures.
At the moment, those proposals are just wishful thinking. But if you could use more COVID relief to help you keep your bills paid and keep your debt under control, there are plenty of other ways to get some.
Billions in stimulus relief still available
Though Washington has turned its attention away from stimulus checks, billions in other government support is still available from the earlier pandemic rescue packages.
‘Family stimulus checks’ from the child tax credit
Through December, most households with children ages 17 and younger are receiving cash payments through a temporary expansion of the child tax credit.
Households can get a total of up to $1,500 for kids 6 to 17, and as much as $1,800 for each child under 6.
The money has been going out automatically, based on information gathered through tax returns. Families who don’t file taxes have until Oct. 4 to go on the IRS website to sign up and start receiving money on Oct. 15.
Assistance for struggling renters
The government’s last two stimulus packages earmarked $46.6 billion in aid for Americans who’ve gotten behind on their rent during the pandemic. The Treasury Department revealed on Friday that only about $7.7 billion has been distributed so far.
The money is being doled out via hundreds of state and local housing programs, and the benefits can be hefty. In Illinois, tenants and landlords who qualify can request one-time grants of up to $25,000.
Money for distressed homeowners, too
Homeowners who’ve had trouble keeping up with their house payments and utility bills can still seek financial relief through a $10 billion mortgage assistance program that was part of the massive stimulus package Biden signed in mid-March.
You can receive money if you own your home and have a loan balance that, in most parts of the U.S., doesn’t top $548,250.
Aid for food workers
Some workers who’ve kept America fed throughout the pandemic are now eligible for stimulus grants from a new program announced this month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Some grocery, farm and meat-packing workers dipped into their own funds to pay for child care, personal protective equipment and other expenses to continue their essential work. Eligible working Americans can receive grants of up to $600 that are being distributed through local agencies and nonprofits.
Other ways to stimulate your finances
If you aren’t eligible for any of these types of stimulus funds — or if you are, but the aid just isn’t enough — here are some other strategies to give yourself a financial lift.
Tame your debt. The pandemic may have forced you to rack up high balances on your credit cards or take out a loan with an unsavory APR. A lower-interest debt consolidation loan can help you regain control by simplifying your payments and shrinking the total cost of your debt.
Save when you shop. The pandemic drove many people to do the bulk of their shopping via smartphones and computers. To shave a little off the online price tags, consider downloading a free browser add-on that automatically hunts for lower prices and coupons.
Refinance to slash your housing payments. Today’s average mortgage rates are lower than pre-pandemic levels, and if you own a home, a refinance could mean major savings. A recent Zillow survey found almost half the homeowners who refinanced between April 2020 and April 2021 are now saving $300 or more each month.
Put your pennies to work. The stock market may seem unapproachable to a newcomer, but a popular app helps you get started using little more than “spare change” from your everyday purchases. You can quickly build your pennies into a portfolio.
This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.
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