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Stimulus checks are on the way for many Americans. Here are the smartest ways to get the most out of your money.
According to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Americans could start receiving their stimulus checks as early as this week.

Singles who make less than $75,000 per year will get $1,200, but families could receive a lot more. Married couples who earn less than $150,000 in combined income will receive $2,400, plus an extra $500 per qualifying child. That means a family of five (who meet the income criteria) will see an extra $3,900 in their bank accounts very soon.

So how should you spend your stimulus check? Obviously, boosting your emergency savings, paying off debt, or investing for your retirement are always great choices. But, beyond the TP and canned foods, what are some smart items to purchase if the coronavirus quarantine could stretch into August (or later)?

Here are seven smart ways to spend your stimulus check that could make your life easier, safer, and more enjoyable over the next few months.

Related: Here’s How to Create Your Own Stimulus

1. Prescription Medications, Thermometer, and First Aid Kit

One of the first things you may want to buy is a 30-to-90-day supply of all your prescription medications. Buying enough to last you for another month or longer will help you limit trips to the pharmacy (where you’d have a higher chance of coming in contact with sick individuals).

Also, if you don’t own a thermometer, you’ll want to buy one as soon as possible. A fever is one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19. So if you’re experiencing symptoms like a sore throat or a cough, checking your temperature is a smart first step to take before heading to a doctor’s office or emergency room.

Making sure that you have a fully-stocked first aid kit at home can help you take care of minor injuries without having to burden the healthcare system.

Related:  The Best Apps to Save Money on Hospital Bills

2. Home Fitness Gear

Before the COVID-19 crisis began, I visited my local gym at least three times every week. But I haven’t been able to step foot inside my gym in over a month. And I don’t expect to be able to visit again any time soon.

So, like so many others, my wife and I have had to find workout routines that we can do from home. While we thought we’d need to spend a ton of money on gear, it turns out that you can do a lot of exercises with just a few barbells, resistance bands, and a yoga mat.

YouTube and Instagram are great places to find home workout ideas. And many of the home fitness staples that you’ll need to do your workouts can be bought online. For less than $100 of your stimulus check, you may be able to build yourself a killer home gym! Be aware that delays, as delivery services prioritize essential products, may add a week or more to the date you’ll see your new gear.

3. Outdoor Recreation Items

Restaurants, playgrounds, and theme parks are closed all around the country. So what can you do if you want to get outside of your house for an hour or two?

In our family’s case, we’ve spent a lot more time exploring our surrounding area on our bikes. And we’re not the only ones. In our neighborhood, I’ve noticed a massive uptick in the number of families taking evening bike rides together.

Guess what? They’re a ton of fun! Not only are the rides good exercise, but they’ve given us a chance to have some great family conversations.

Bikes are just one example of recreational gear that could make your time outside more enjoyable. Scooters, rollerblades, skateboards, footballs, baseballs, and basketballs are all fun outdoor items you may want to consider purchasing with part of your stimulus check.

4. Indoor Games and Activities

Sports and outdoor activities are fun. But let’s be honest, you can only spend so much time outside every day. You’ll need to move inside when it gets dark or when the rain starts to fall.

A month ago, you may have chosen to head over to a restaurant or catch a movie during these times. But now most of us are spending nearly 100% of our indoor time inside of our own homes. So what can you do to keep from going crazy?

Why not use some of your stimulus check to stock up on games and activities that you can do inside? In our case, we’ve already purchased a few board and card games that we can play with the kids. Craft supplies could be another smart purchase for parents. Or you might want to take advantage of this extra time at home to take up a new hobby like embroidery or baking.

Related: 55 Free (or Cheap!) Ways to Keep Kids Entertained During a Pandemic

5. Work-From-Home Equipment

Are you working from home right now? If so, spending some of your stimulus check on home-office supplies could make your job easier and help you get things done more efficiently.

As someone who’s worked from home for the past year and a half, one of the pieces of equipment I value the most is noise-canceling headphones. They allow me to get my work done in peace no matter what yelling and rough-housing my kids might be doing just outside the door.

Do you only have a laptop computer right now? If so, buying a full-size monitor could give you a lot more screen space and keep you from having to hunch your back over all day. Finally, a laptop stand can come in handy for when you’re working from your bed or couch.

Related: 29 Legit Work-From-Home Jobs

6. Home Entertainment Tech

With virtually all U.S. movie theaters shut down, it’s no surprise that people are spending a lot more time streaming shows and movies at home. If you’re bingeing on more shows than usual right now, it might be a smart time to upgrade your home theater and audio tech.

For example, you could use some of your stimulus check to purchase a new smart TV with a 4k display. Or, as a more affordable alternative, you could buy a streaming device like a Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, or Chromecast.

Smart speakers are another gadget that we love to use in our home to listen to music, podcasts, and stories for kids. We personally use the Google Home line of products, but the Amazon Echo speakers are incredibly popular as well.

7. Gift Cards to Local Restaurants and Stores

Ok, so this one might sound a little bit strange, but hear me out. While you might not be able to buy products from local business owners for quite some time, you may be able to purchase gift cards from them.

Why would you want to do that? Because it could provide much-needed cash flow for your favorite local businesses. When the quarantine is lifted, you can start using your gift cards to buy the things that you need.

Mike McDerment, the founder of Freshbooks, said that he recently pre-bought $2,000 worth of gift cards to one of his favorite local restaurants! While few of us will be able to spend that much, even buying just a few gift cards could be a great way to invest in your community and play a small part in stimulating the economy.

Related: Freshbooks Review | Online Invoicing

How You Shouldn’t Spend Your Stimulus Check

It turns out that there are a lot of smart ways to spend your stimulus check. But there are also a few things that you probably shouldn’t waste your money on.

Related: Stimulus Checks: Fact vs. Fiction

First, using your stimulus check to make a down payment for a new car or another installment loan may be a bad idea. You’d just be adding a financial strain to your budget in an uncertain time.

Also read: Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction

Second, don’t use your stimulus check to hoard essential items. You don’t need 10,000 rolls of toilet paper. Be courteous and only buy what you truly need so that everyone else can get what they need, too.

Author Bio

Total Articles: 16
Clint Proctor is a freelance writer and founder of WalletWiseGuy.com, where he writes about how students and millennials can win with money. When he's away from his keyboard, he enjoys drinking coffee, traveling, obsessing over the Green Bay Packers, and spending time with his wife and two boys.

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