What to do if your stimulus check isn’t enough

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The highlight of the latest coronavirus relief package, signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, is a new round of stimulus checks. The American Rescue Plan calls for $1,400 payments to eligible Americans, including individuals with an adjusted gross income under $75,000 and spouses filing jointly with an AGI under $150,000, along with $1,400 for each dependent.

But if this most recent stimulus check isn’t enough to help you get by, you have choices.

What are my options?

Contact your lender

If you’re struggling to pay your mortgage or other loans, reach out to your lender. Many lenders are still offering the loan relief programs they started in 2020, which may waive fees or allow borrowers to pause or reduce payments.

“I think it’s imperative on the borrower, if you’re experiencing financial difficulties, reach out to your lender, explain the situation, because that’s where the options are on the table,” says Greg McBride, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst.

File for unemployment

If you’ve lost your job, contact your state’s unemployment insurance program as soon as possible to find out what benefits you’re eligible for.

The latest stimulus package adds an extra $300 per week to state unemployment benefits through September 6. It also extends Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) from 50 weeks to 73 weeks through September 6. The PUA program lets states offer unemployment benefits to people who are self-employed or seeking part-time work, who wouldn’t typically be eligible for assistance.

Rethink your budget

Examine your spending habits to see if there are any unnecessary expenses you can cut. If you’re paying debt down aggressively by making larger payments or paying more often than you’re required to, consider making only minimum payments until your cash flow improves.

Apply for a coronavirus hardship loan

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, some banks and credit unions are offering short-term personal loans to help borrowers bridge gaps in their finances. Borrower requirements vary, but these loans typically provide small amounts ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 at APRs low as 0 percent.

Alternatively, you can find lenders willing to extend personal loans even to those with bad credit. Some online lenders provide same-day approval decisions, meaning you could receive funds as soon as the next business day. Be sure to borrow only what you need, however, since APRs for personal loans can be nearly 36 percent for those with poor credit. Lenders may also tack on fees that hike the cost of borrowing money.

Where is my stimulus check?

If you’re still waiting to get your stimulus check, you can use the IRS’s Get My Payment tool to find the status of your payment. If you’re eligible to receive the money but the IRS doesn’t have your bank’s direct deposit information on file from your 2019 or 2020 tax return, you’ll be mailed a check or a debit card.

Written by
Rashawn Mitchner
Associate loans editor
Rashawn Mitchner is an associate editor at Bankrate, managing coverage of debt and personal, auto and home equity loans.
Edited by
Associate loans editor