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Stimulus checks: Americans say financial stability depends on economic impact payments – USA TODAY


Americans to Congress: We need those stimulus checks.
About 54% of people who received first-round stimulus checks believe that the money helped them make ends meet this spring, as millions felt the financial crunch of the surging coronavirus pandemic and the historic job losses that followed. And 55% of those surveyed feel that their financial stability depended on receiving a second check, according to a new Credit Karma/Qualtrics survey
The second relief package from Congress, passed late last year, contains a $600 direct payment to Americans who earned up to $75,000 in 2019. That is less than the $1,200 checks approved in the first batch of aid, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which passed in March. The latest aid also provides $600 per child, up from $500 in the spring, and includes $1,200 for couples making up to $150,000 a year.
More than half of the respondents in the Credit Karma/Qualtrics survey plan to use the second round of funds for necessities such as rent, utilities and groceries. While just over one-quarter of people put the money from the first check into their savings, up to one-third of Americans are hoping they’ll be able to save at least part of their second check.
“With an uncertain job market and fewer relief options available to consumers, it’s likely consumers’ finances will remain a top concern for many Americans,” says Colleen McCreary, chief people officer and financial advocate at Credit Karma.
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Even survey respondents with household incomes above $150,000 a year said they’re struggling, with 40% saying that this second check is necessary to keep their finances stable.
This could be the result of a recent job loss, lack of savings or unexpected expenses associated with educating children at home, or the higher cost of living in major cities, McCreary explained.
“Ultimately, it just goes to show this pandemic affects everyone, no matter their income level,” she added.
Another discouraging report on Thursday showed that 965,000 more workers filed for unemployment benefits last week as businesses shutter and lay off employees. That’s up sharply from the prior week’s tally of 784,000.
More people are looking to build up their savings and prioritize paying down debt to give themselves a buffer to handle future expenses. About 28% of respondents are opting to use the second check to pay down debt.
“If you’re someone who has money left over after paying for necessities, consider putting that money toward paying down debt or building savings,” says McCreary. “If this pandemic has taught us anything about our finances, it’s the importance of an emergency savings fund.”


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