Tips from Lynnette’s interview with Robin Meade on CNN Headline News
Q1: A lot of Americans have received stimulus checks or are receiving them soon. What should be the #1 top priority in terms of using the money wisely?
A:1 In my opinion, everyone should cover housing first. So pay your mortgage or rent if you can afford to; if you can’t, ask for help from lender/loan servicer/landlord.
It’s important to keep the roof over your head during a pandemic. Nobody should have to worry about being thrown out in the street during this crisis.
Q2: After housing, what should people prioritize next?
A2: Cover food costs next. If you can’t afford food, consider applying for SNAP or TANF benefits or going to a food bank.
Many working class people didn’t qualify before (because SNAP and/or TANF is based on $$ in the bank, income, etc … but now they may be eligible if their bank account is low, there’s been job loss, etc.
Also, the CARES Act provides billions for nutrition and food support – don’t be afraid or too proud to get this aid. there’s extra $$ for kids who were on free/reduced lunch, more $$ for the meals on wheels program, etc.
No one should have to go hungry even if there’s been job loss or reductions in income.
NOTE: FeedingAmerica.org keeps a list of food banks in every state in the U.S.
Q3. What should be done about credit obligations, like student loans, credit card debt or auto loans?
A3: Thankfully, the CARES Act put federal student loan payments on pause for 6 months. No interest either. So you don’t have to pay federal loans from April – Sept. 2020.
Re: credit cards, make minimum payments if you can afford to do so. But if you can’t, get online or call your bank or credit card issuer. A lot of them are working out payment plans. Ditto for car companies. They’re letting borrowers make partial payments or skip payments if necessary.
Q4: Lastly, what about essential utilities?
A4: Of course, you do want to keep the lights/power/energy on … especially in parts of the country where it’s really hot or really cold.
Can’t pay? Again, seek help. If a utility company won’t offer payment arrangements, see what your city or state is requiring. Amid the coronavirus pandemic there are many rules against cutting off people’s utilities. Also, there are federal programs like LIHEAP, and state resources available too.
Q5: Is there anything else viewers should know to stretch their dollars?
A5: Don’t rely exclusively on that $1,200 stimulus check. It’s just a one-time payment. If you qualify, tap into other benefits that are longer lasting and that offer more dollars: benefits like unemployment insurance, sick pay or medical leave can all help you get through the coronavirus crisis.