By State Treasurer, Thomas Beadle
Federal COVID Stimulus checks are arriving in bank accounts across North Dakota. For many, this is needed relief and will help with daily expenses and bills in the wake of a year that saw them unable to pick up that extra shift, or saw business dwindle. For others, this is akin to an additional tax refund or an extra paycheck, and now it’s time to celebrate!
Before you rush out the door with all that money burning a hole in your pocket, please consider getting your financial house in order and supporting your community first.
Pay off high interest debt. If you have relied on credit cards or high-interest loans to keep up on bills, and you have a balance that keeps rolling over from month to month, chip away at it. Making only the minimum payments will cause you to pay significantly more over time for the goods you are taking home today. Eliminating some of this debt will help take a major burden off your back.
Rebuild your emergency fund. The economy is recovering, unemployment is dropping, and North Dakota is doing well. You might have had to dip into an emergency fund to pay bills in the last year, or to cover an unexpected repair. Now is the time to rebuild those savings to make sure you are prepared for whatever your future holds.
Save for the future. It’s never too early to prepare for retirement or future expenses and investing early pays huge dividends later. Contributions can be made to an IRA account or a 529 College Savings plan tax free and putting your stimulus check to work can help jumpstart your future savings efforts.
Gift to those in need. Perhaps you are in a position where you don’t need the stimulus. You never lost wages or economic opportunities due to COVID and you have already invested in your future needs and wants. Take a look around your community and you’ll see that not everyone is in as good of a situation. There are a tremendous amount of worthwhile nonprofit organizations and charities that are doing wonderful things for our neighbors in need and our community as a whole. If you are in a good position, consider paying it forward.
Shop Local. If your personal financial house is in order, go ahead and treat yourself! The best way that a stimulus check can help the economy as a whole is when you spend it. Grab some food from your favorite restaurant that had their sales dwindle with fewer patrons dining in. Buy something nice, something quirky or unique, for yourself or a loved one from one of the many local boutiques, dealers, bookstores or gift shops around our state. Pamper yourself with a spa day. Spending money locally helps our main streets shops stay open, keeps our workers employed, and helps our community.