Budgeting

The Smartest Ways to Spend Your Stimulus Check

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According to President Biden and White House Secretary Jen Psaki, a large number of Americans can expect to receive their stimulus checks by the end of March.

Singles who make less than $75,000 per year can get $1,400, but families could receive a lot more. Married couples who earn less than $150,000 in combined income can receive $2,800. Unlike the previous stimulus check, each eligible dependent in a household can also receive $1,400. That means a family of five (who meet the income criteria) can see an extra $7,000 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 while so many of us are still living in quarantine?

Here are some smart ways to spend your stimulus check that could make your life easier, safer, or more enjoyable.

Related: Here’s How to Create Your Own Stimulus

1. Home Fitness Gear

Before the COVID-19 crisis began, I visited my local gym at least three times every week. But many of us haven't been to a public gym in over a year. And, in some areas, you may not 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!

2. Outdoor Recreation Items

Movie theaters and indoor playgrounds are still 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 were not the only ones. During the early months of the pandemic shutdown, trail ridership increased by 100% to 500% compared to the same periods in 2019.

Due to high demand, many local and online bike retailers struggled with inventory throughout the summer and fall months of 2020. But manufacturers have begun to catch up and it should be easier to get your hands on a bike today.

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.

3. 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.

Many of us are still spending big portions of our days 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, baking or making natural dyes from plants.

4. Work-From-Home Equipment

Are you still working from home? 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 whos worked from home for over two years now, 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: 31 Legit Work-From-Home Jobs

5. Home Entertainment Tech

With the majority of U.S. movie theaters still 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.

6. Gift Cards to Local Restaurants and Stores

Ok, so this one might sound a little bit strange, but hear me out. While you might still not be able to buy products from local business owners, 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 shutdowns are fully lifted, you can start using your gift cards to buy the things that you need.

Recently, Enterprise gave $100 gift cards to each of its 4,500 employees to support local businesses in 9,500+ neighborhoods. If you happen to own a business as well, running a similar gift card campaign can be a great way to show appreciation to your workers while playing a small part in stimulating the economy.

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.

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: 7 Important Stock Market Lessons to Remember in 2021

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.


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