Have you looked at your bank account lately? If not, there may be more cash in it than you thought. . .
With the passing of the American Rescue Plan Act, millions of Americans received the third round of stimulus checks (a.k.a. economic impact payments) last month. Though there are many thoughts, feelings, and opinions regarding this action taken by the US Government, the reality is that many of us have received an additional $1,400 (or more).
What Should I Do with My Stimulus Check?
Some of us may have needed this boost to help us get through this difficult time in history, while others of us may have been okay without it. Regardless of where you stand on this spectrum, you may be asking yourself “what should I do with my stimulus check? How should I handle this extra money?”
As a financial coach, my job is never to tell people what to do with their money. Rather, a financial coach’s job is to provide biblical wisdom and principles to guide individuals and married couples to make prayerful, God-honoring decisions with their finances.
Thus, rather than providing a list of ideas for how to spend your stimulus check, I want to provide you with an overarching understanding of money that I hope will help inform your decision on what to do with your stimulus check.
4 Uses of Money
Truth be told, there really are only four things you can do with money, which means there are only four things you can do with your stimulus check. Let’s take a look at each of them.
Use #1: Give
First, you can give the money away. I’ve heard it said that God not only provides for us, but he also provides through us, meaning that we are not only recipients of God’s generous provision, but we are also conduits of his provision for others. From the Old Testament to the New, God’s people are called to be generous givers.
The Apostle Paul exhorts the believers in Corinth to be generous towards the believers in Jerusalem by giving a financial gift for them. Paul provides these instructions in 1 Corinthians 16:2,
“On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper. . .” Notice, the giving is to be weekly and it is to happen “as he may prosper” meaning as one increases financially.
This short phrase, “as he may prosper,” is often overlooked, but what Paul is saying is that we are to give when we have a financial increase (when we receive a paycheck or even a gift). One thing I would highly encourage you to do with your stimulus check is to prayerfully consider giving a portion of it to the work of the gospel.
Maybe you are in a solid financial position right now (no debt, emergency fund is full, saving for retirement at a good rate, and no immediate financial needs), and you don’t need your stimulus check. You could consider giving it all away.
Maybe you are in a very difficult financial position right now (large amount of debt, bills piling up, behind on your rent or mortgage, serious car trouble, etc.). I would encourage you to still consider giving a portion of what you have received as an act of worship, obedience, trust, and devotion to God. Prayerfully ask the Lord how much to give and take a step of faith. Remember, “It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35)”—regardless of your financial position.
Use #2: Live
The second thing you can do with money is live! Money is merely a tool that we use to purchase things that we need such as food, clothing, a roof over our head, electricity, as well as vehicles and gas to get us around. If you have immediate needs, use your stimulus check to purchase what you need.
This use of money also includes enjoyment. Proverbs 21:20 states “Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling.” It’s okay to enjoy God’s provision (with wisdom and in moderation)! It’s okay to have an ice cream cone or even a nice dinner and enjoy God’s provision and creation. If you are in a financially healthy spot, consider using a portion of your stimulus check for something fun.
Use #3: Owe
The third thing you can do with money is owe it (a.k.a. debt). Proverbs 6:1-5 encourages someone in debt to save themselves “like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the hand of the fowler.” In modern terms, run as hard and fast as you can to get out of debt!
Do you have student loans, car loans, personal loans, credit card debt, or home loans. Are you behind on taxes or payments? If so, imagine how it would feel to be free. Your stimulus check may be able to knock out a loan or at least take a good-sized chunk of it away.
Use #4: Grow
The final thing you can do with money is grow it! Invest it for the future. If all of your financial boxes are checked, you could use your stimulus check (after giving a portion) to invest it for the future. Though you most likely won’t be able to put it into your work’s retirement account, there are many other individual investing options you could pursue to save this for the future (stocks, IRAs, etc.).
So, what can you do with your stimulus check? Honestly, you only have four options: you can give, live, owe, or grow it. For a helpful graphic on the uses of money, check out Ron Blue’s 4H Tool!