By now you have likely received your third economic impact, or stimulus, check from the government. The stated intent of these checks was two-fold: to assist those whose income has been negatively impacted by covid and to stimulate the economy and support small businesses.
If you are one of the estimated 18 million people currently receiving unemployment checks, then you probably need the money to meet basic needs for your family. And, of course, you should use the money to meet those needs.
However, if you, like me, have maintained your pre-covid level of income, the stimulus check represents extra money. How will you use this money? Many people are saving the money or paying down debt. In fact, estimates are that more about 71%% of the money distributed in the first round last spring was put into saving or debt reduction and another 18% was used for essentials. That left 11% to go back in the economy. Of that, 8% was spend on non-essential items and 3% was donated to charities. (Ben Wick, https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-stimulus-checks-savings-pay-debts-federal-reserve-cares-act-2020-10)
While it is wise to save and pay down debt, those actions do not help to stimulate the economy–and get people back to work–nor do they help our neighbors who are in need. I encourage you to consider using this third round of stimulus money in more altruistic ways.
In case you need them, here are some ideas:
- Tithe. For most of us, this money represents an increase. God asks us to give back to His work 10 percent of our income.
- Donations to Food Pantries. Many people in your community are relying on food pantries to meet their basic needs. Donations are up, yet there is still a significant need.
- Purchase gift certificates from local restaurants and small shops. These businesses are still struggling and can benefit from the cash influx. My husband and I have bought gift cards that we have no intention of using. We consider the purchase of the gift cards to be donations to help ensure that our favorite restaurants and shops are still operating post-covid.
- Donate to campaigns to help local shops and restaurants. Many small business are running fundraising events on social media platforms.
- Shop with independent businesses. One of favorite expenditures has been ordering fresh seafood directly from fisheries. We’ve had salmon and king crab from Alaska, oysters from Pugent Bay, shrimp from New Orleans, and lobster from Maine. The seafood has been shipped directly to our house. It is fresh and delicious, and we are helping fishermen who revamped their business models when their restaurant sales declined.
- Donations to funds to help pay for childcare and other services for lower-income workers. Many of these workers are struggling to pay for care for children who would normally be in school while they work.
- Gifts of appreciation to front-line health care workers. Health care professionals in our area are working full-time schedules and then volunteering additional hours to vaccinate the public. There are many ways you can show your appreciation to them and support your local small businesses.
Of course, we are all praying that the vaccines work and coronavirus is soon a passing memory. In the meantime, pray and thoughtfully consider how you can help those in your community who are facing financial challenges from this pandemic.