- Written by Chris Orestis Chris Orestis
The stimulus checks sent to millions of Americans have been a lifeline for many.
The economic calamity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in massive unemployment, shrinking bank accounts, and tightened family budgets, and the $1,200 check can provide a little breathing room while paying for some essentials.
But for retirees who aren’t counting on the check to pay bills because they draw Social Security and can tap retirement savings, there are numerous options to put that stimulus check to good use.
The stimulus money provides an opportunity to help a family member, add savings, pay down debt, or take care of some things they’ve been putting off. Retirees should look at their current situation and determine if the money is best used short term or for future considerations.
If you are retired, here are five ways for you to use your stimulus check
1. Bulk up your emergency savings. The rule of thumb regarding an emergency fund is having enough money in quickly accessible cash to pay for at least three months’ worth of living expenses. If your fund is short, add your stimulus check.
2. Invest it in stable places. If you don’t absolutely need your stimulus check, it could turn out to be a nice bonus by growing it through investment. People are understandably hesitant about the volatile stock market now. It has bounced back a few times recently, and no one should panic sell or buy.
Another stable investment is in maintaining a life insurance policy instead of allowing it to lapse. Life insurance policies are a stable asset that guarantee the face value and also have secondary market value if the owner decides to sell it off with a life settlement.
3. Invest in your health. Seniors are among the most vulnerable groups to suffer extreme symptoms from the coronavirus. Add that to feelings of isolation and not seeing family, and it would be productive to spend the stimulus on an activity that would boost your wellness, both physically and mentally.
Consider fitness equipment, an online fitness class, appointments with a social worker for counseling, or perhaps some added technology to help stay connected to loved ones and others.
4. Help a family member. With so many people hurting financially from this crisis, retirees in a good position currently have a wonderful opportunity with these checks to provide added support for loved ones, especially those among the millions now out of work.
5. Spend it on overdue repairs. This is an investment, in a way, because spending on a car or home issue that’s relatively inexpensive now could save you from much bigger costs later if those issues are left unattended.
A lot of people put off home projects, car repairs, or maintenance because they want to conserve funds and limit retirement withdrawals. Your stimulus check could be money well spent to prevent big expenditures.
Americans are suffering financially, and seniors aren’t necessarily the exception. It’s a welcome bonus for many, so be sure to use it, or save it, wisely. Those who have the wiggle room to spend it can make their lives easier through this difficult time.
Chris Orestis, known as the “Retirement Genius,” is president of LifeCare Xchange and a nationally recognized healthcare expert and senior advocate. He has 25 years’ experience in the insurance and long-term care industries and is the author of Help on the Way and A Survival Guide to Aging.