Soon, those of us in the United States who qualify will receive a stimulus check from the federal government. If you are signed up for direct deposit, deposits will be initiated on April 9; paper checks should mail out in May. As we eagerly wait for our money to arrive, I have some ideas on ways we can really use this stimulus money for GOOD.
If you have lost your job or taken a really hard hit financially during this trying economic time, you may need to use your stimulus check for essentials like rent, bills, and food. I don’t want you to feel ignored by this blog post. I see you and hear you! The absolute best thing you can do with your stimulus money if you’re in a tight spot financially is to take care of your needs. That is making a positive difference in your life!
The ideas in this blog post can be utilized by those of us who are still able to financially meet essential needs right now, even if our bottom lines have taken a little bit of a hit. For us, the stimulus check provides extra money beyond what we truly need. It would be really easy to cash that check and blow it quickly on electronics or clothes or expensive food or random Amazon purchases that we don’t really need and that may not really help those who are most in need right now. I want to challenge us to be a bit more purposeful in how we spend our stimulus money so that we can really make a positive difference. Here are some ideas!
1. Purchase from a Small Business
While companies like Amazon are thriving and seeing a boost in sales while people are stuck at home, small businesses are hurting. Local businesses have seen a decrease or complete halt in traffic depending on how bad their area is affected by COVID-19, and online small businesses are taking a hit as many people cut down on their discretionary spending. Use your stimulus money to support these businesses. Many brick-and-mortar stores have found ways to sell products and services online or offer gift cards for future use once they are able to reopen. Some businesses, such as restaurants, are able to offer takeout and delivery services. Help them stay afloat. It can make a huge difference to a person or family whose entire livelihood depends on their business.
2. Donate to COVID-19 Relief
Nonprofits are stepping up to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic and provide relief to those impacted. By donating part or all of your stimulus check, you can help support these timely and important efforts. Some organizations to check out include the World Health Organization, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Direct Relief, Partners in Health, Good360, and Americares.
Be sure to also look for localized donation opportunities where you live. For example, a relief fund was recently started in the area where I live to support local restaurant workers who are currently out of work due to restaurant closures.
3. Invest in a Do-Good Mutual Fund.
Saving is incredibly important, whether you’re saving for retirement or a future rainy day. You never know what the future will bring, and it is prudent to have some cushion available. Why not boost your savings while also supporting businesses that are doing good? Invest in a socially responsible mutual fund that only supports businesses that meet certain environmental or social criteria that align with your own values. Some ideas include Vanguard’s Social Index Fund, Green Century Funds, iShares’ Social ETF, and State Street Global Advisors’ Fossil Fuel Reserves Free ETF and Gender Diversity Index Fund. Bonus: It seems like it’s a great time to invest right now because stock prices are so low. As they say, buy low, sell high! Once the economy picks back up again, your investment will increase!
4. Purchase Fair Trade or Eco-Friendly Products
Maybe you’ve heard about fair trade but haven’t taken the plunge yet. Maybe you haven’t bought ethically made items because they are more expensive than what you’re used to. Maybe you want to be kinder to the environment, but you haven’t had an opportunity to figure out how. Now is your chance!! Use your stimulus money to finally try out some fair trade clothing, sustainably made bedding, or organic produce. Looking for ideas of other ethically made items to purchase? Check out my Pinterest boards for ethical fashion, sustainable living, ethical & fair trade home goods clean beauty, and ethical living.
Or, if you’re someone who is already a big supporter of items that are made responsibly, continue the good work by using your stimulus money for an item you’ve had your eye on. Maybe it’s something a little more expensive than what you’d usually purchase, but you know it’s creating work for someone who needs it or is produced in a way that is better for the earth. Treat yourself and support a business that is producing responsibly!
5. Upgrade to Efficient Energy
While these types of purchases may not be as “fun” as new household or personal goods, they have just as much (if not more) positive impact! Use your check as an opportunity to reduce your carbon footprint and become more energy efficient. This could be as simple as purchasing high efficiency light bulbs or a smart thermostat to reduce your electrical use. Or, you could go big and put your money toward installing a solar panel or purchasing a hybrid or electric car.
Investing in efficient energy is what I’ll be doing with my stimulus check! We have been considering a solar panel for a while to help reduce our environmental impact, and this will give us the little boost we need to make it financially possible. 2020 is a great time to go ahead and install solar, since the federal tax credit for solar will decrease in 2021, then completely expire in 2022.
6. Donate to Your Favorite Nonprofit
As someone who works for a nonprofit, I can tell you that nonprofits are taking a bit hit in donations right now due to the economic crash. But, the needs nonprofits serve are still there! Pick a nonprofit doing great work that aligns with your own passions and interests and make a gift. They will be incredibly grateful for the support, and the populations they serve will be grateful as well.
Each of us can contribute to a positive difference by using our stimulus money wisely. I’d love to hear how you plan to do good with your stimulus check. Let me know in the comments!