Still Have Any Stimulus Money Left?

Here’s what experts recommend you to do with it

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

If you haven’t received it already, you’ll likely receive up to $2,400 per couple of stimulus money, thanks to President Trump’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Whether directly deposited or mailed as a check or debit card, the windfall could be used in a variety of ways. Local financial experts offered a few ideas.

We spoke with three financial planners. Here’s what they suggest:

• “It depends totally on your situation. If you have any debt you’re paying more than 6% interest on it, pay it. If you have a few credits with debt, pay the card with the highest interest rate.

• “Put that money in your savings for emergency fund.

• “If you don’t have credit card debt and you’re working, put it in some type of tax-advantaged retirement savings. A 401k comes out of payroll, but you can increase your paycheck contribution for a few payrolls and spend that stimulus money to cover your needs.

• “You could also put it in a Roth IRA depending upon your income.

• “You could put the money in a health savings account.”

Tips from Ethan Gilbert, partner and chartered financial analyst, certified financial planner with Rockbridge Investment Management in Syracuse.

• “I would recommend that people use the stimulus check to pay necessary costs of living, such as housing, food, utilities, taxes and insurances.

• “If they don’t need the money for necessary expenses, I would recommend they save the money for future emergencies. COVID-19 has created significant unemployment, and the risk of infection is still present, until vaccines and other treatments are tested and distributed successfully.”

Tips from Robert A Rolfe, financial adviser with Harmony Financial Services in Oswego.

• “If there is any uncertainty regarding near-future income, the COVID check should go to cash reserves, especially if you don’t have enough cash reserves.

• “If you have the cash reserves and your income is fairly stable, then I would look at is if there a significant amount of short-term debt that needs to be retired.

• “Beyond that, if a person or a family is in good financial position, if you don’t need these funds, I think an appropriate decision is to use it to help someone who does.

• “Pay attention to your church family needs. Continue to support your church financially. People aren’t contributing as much to your church. Other members might have significant needs.

• “Look outside yourself and others you could benefit. Oswego County Community Foundation has a COVID-19 fund in collaboration with United Way and Richard S.  Shineman Foundation. A lot of individual organizations in the county have financial needs that can’t do their fundraisers right now. If you have an organization you care about, it’s a good time to consider if they need support.

• “Parents and grandparents might want to consider their children’s or grandchildren’s college education, such as the New York 529 plan. This would be a good chunk of money towards those plans.

• “Think of your retirement and 401k plans. Contribute to a Roth IRA or adding some extra money to your payroll deduction retirement account. You could increase your contribution to your payroll deduction plan.

• “If you could, buy some more stock.”

Tips from Randy L. Zeigler, certified financial planner, private wealth adviser with Ameriprise Financial Services, Oswego

No Stimulus Check Yet

Anyone who filed their taxes requesting a paper check (not automatic deposit) may not get the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act stimulus check until the end of August. Some older adults who are uncomfortable with handing out their banking information may be more inclined to go with a physical tax refund.