Washington has all but forgotten the idea of a fourth pandemic stimulus check for Americans, with Congress caught up in a federal budget bill and a massive infrastructure plan.
Could a petition calling for monthly payments until the end of the COVID-19 crisis prompt lawmakers to resuscitate the idea? The campaign just crossed a key threshold on the way to its goal of 3 million signatures.
Surveys show stimulus payments have gone to essential needs for many struggling families that lost income in the pandemic. Whether you need more cash to cover the bills or you simply want to spend smartly in uncertain times, you may need to free up some money on your own in case another stimulus check never comes.
Petition gets fresh interest in recent months
Denver restaurant owner Stephanie Bonin told TV station KUSA in her hometown that she started the petition months ago but noticed renewed interest starting in late summer.
Her petition asks Congress for $2,000 a month for American adults "for the duration of the crisis." Kids would get $1,000 a month under her vision.
The idea has become more important with the rise of the delta variant, Bonin told the TV station. Her self-employed husband lost his income during the pandemic, and they kept the restaurant running, but they fear another slowdown because delta is making people cautious.
The petition drive has now surpassed 2.9 million signatures. Given the uptick in attention that Bonin noticed, it seems many Americans agree with her recent update to the petition calling for checks targeted to people who are still suffering.
“Our country is still deeply struggling. The recovery hasn’t reached many Americans,” she writes on the petition site.
Stimulus options are waning
Not only is there no sign of a fourth stimulus check on the horizon, but the government’s signature COVID relief efforts to beef up unemployment benefits expired in September. A few advance payments remain in 2021 for the child tax credit that the government expanded for one year.
Much of the stimulus money that’s still going out is coming from state and city programs and pools of money targeted at workers in certain industries.
The petition is full of comments from people who are struggling despite the stimulus efforts.
One commenter said her mother’s employer fired her because of the pandemic, and unemployment ran out but her mom couldn’t find a job. That poster has two jobs but can barely pay the rent and eats only twice a day. “Despair overwhelms us,” the person writes. “The money is not enough.”
“The pandemic has made the cost of everything skyrocket. The stimulus would help this solve this dilemma,” another commenter says.
Money-saving tips during the pandemic
If the petition doesn’t rouse Washington, and no more stimulus payments are coming, you still need to pay the bills. Fall back to tried-and-true cost-trimming methods:
1. Refinance your mortgage
For homeowners, now is the perfect time to freshen up your mortgage. Average rates on a 30-year fixed mortgage remain under 3%, which means homeowners could save hundreds of dollars every month with a refi.
2. Combine your debts into one payment
You can significantly cut your interest rate if you consolidate your debt and roll your balances into a credit card with a 0% introductory APR or a lower-interest debt consolidation loan.
3. Shop for better insurance rates
Some simple comparison shopping with online tools can save hundreds on your homeowners insurance. And there’s a good chance you’re overpaying on car insurance too if you haven’t looked up rates in a while. Fix that with quick auto insurance rate check.
4. Get help finding the lowest prices
Call your cable, internet and cell providers to try to negotiate better rates, and if they don’t agree, shop for a cheaper deal with another company. The same goes for shopping online — if you’re not sure that you’re getting the best price by sifting through different websites, a tool you add to your internet browser will check for the best deals and coupons online.
5. Bonus idea: Save those pennies, even in rocky times
You don’t need a lot of money to start or build up your investing portfolio. For example, there’s an app that collects your digital nickels and dimes leftover from everyday purchases to give you a piece of the stock market. Try investing your “spare change.”
This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.