While the 2008 tax stimulus check has not yet become a reality (in fact, it’s far from it), I wanted to share five ideas you should consider for this new “found money.” The bottom line is that you should take care of yourself, first and foremost, and use this money to make your life a little easier.
#1. Spend It On Essentials
If you’re at the point where you need the $300 to continue, by all means spend it on the essentials you need to survive. If you’re at this point, this is a much needed breath of fresh air… take it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you should save it for the future when you need to put food on the table now. However, you must take stock and decide whether you’re spending this on needs or just spending this on wants. You also need to look down the road at your own personal finance decisions because you’re in a tough spot – this stimulus check may not come! Cut back on some of the wants in your life and you can create your own $300 savings for the year very very easily.
#2. Pay Down Credit Cards
I know many people carry credit card debt from their years of indiscretion and that’s perfectly fine. Life is about learning, it’s about making mistakes, and since you’re still standing then hopefully the lessons have taken, right? So, if the stimulus check comes through, please do the responsible thing and pay down some of this ridiculous 20%+ interest rated debt because it’s holding you back. Hey, if you’re reading this, chances are you’ve already realized this so good for you.
#3. Pay Down Other Debts
The government wants you to spend this tax stimulus check to lessen or eliminate the effects of a potential recession, don’t listen to that crap. Take care of yourself. That means taking this money, paying off any other high interest debt (I called out credit cards specifically because of their high interest rates) because that enables you to be more efficient with your money in the future. If you lose $50 each month to interest payments, that’s $50 you can’t spend on gas, groceries, whatever.
#4. Pad Your Emergency Fund
Let’s be honest, if there is going to be a recession then your $300 (or whatever it turns out being) isn’t going to save the country. Do the selfish thing and pad your emergency fund. If you have 6 months (or a year) of expenses in there already, good for you – put more. Whatever you planned for your emergency fund was in a non-recession-threatening world right? The environment has changed so you might want to put a little more into that emergency fund.
#5. Fund Retirement Accounts
$300 today, appreciating at a conservative 7% a year, will turn into $1,160.91 in twenty years. If you have 40 years, it’ll become $4,492.34. Retirement will be a beautiful time in your life if it’s adequately funded. Do you need to spend the $300 right this minute or can you spare it to fund your happiness when you don’t have to work 40 hours a day?
Anyone else have any good (responsible) ideas for this (potential) tax stimulus check?