The pandemic-inspired federal stimulus checks may have come to an end, but that doesn’t mean the windfalls have to stop. Whether those cash infusions were vital or simply a welcome financial boost, consider how you could create your own “stimulus check” moving forward.
That may sound like a suggestion to save more and spend less, and in a way, it is. But still, the idea of any stimulus check is that the extra money can help you juice up your economy. Going along with that logic, we can all create our own stimulus checks.
Don’t worry — we aren’t going to suggest a side hustle, a catchy phrase that really just means getting a part-time job. After all, a side hustle or part-time gig is not exactly as fun as making money quickly and relatively painlessly. Here are some ideas to generate your own stimulus check:
— Automate your savings.
— Refinance your home.
— Find missing money.
— Sell unwanted items.
— Cut your insurance premiums.
— Slash subscription purchases.
— Pay down debt.
Automate Your Savings
We all know we should save money — or save more money — but not everyone does that.
Create your own windfall by automatically depositing money into a savings account every month, so it will be “out of sight, out of mind,” says Andrew Wood, a retirement planning advisor with Daniel A. White & Associates, a retirement planning services firm in Middletown, Delaware. “Most savers agree that even a small addition per paycheck adds up fairly quickly.”
And if you do that, in several months, you’ve essentially got your own stimulus check.
Refinance Your Home
Amid the pandemic, falling mortgage interest rates have made refinancing an alluring option for many homeowners.
“While it can take time to receive approval, refinancing can help lower your monthly payments for the long term,” says Denny Fulk, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based certified financial planner and wealth management advisor with Northwestern Mutual’s Private Client Group, DKD Wealth Strategies Group.
And that extra money in your bank account every month would be like getting some sort of stimulus check every month.
That said, “the main caveat to keep in mind is that refinancing comes with a cost,” Fulk says. “If you recently refinanced — for example, within the past year, as interest rates have been on the decline even prior to the pandemic — you may want to crunch some numbers to be sure refinancing again is worth it.”
Generally, to refinance a home, you’ll shell out 2% to 3% of the remaining principal on your mortgage in closing costs.
And if you plan on selling your home within the next few years, refinancing might not be worth the expense, Fulk says.
Find Missing Money
If you’ve never checked out an unclaimed money website, you should. One is called MissingMoney.com, and another site to search is Unclaimed.org; they’re both operated by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.
The older you are, the more interested you should be in these sites. After all, if you’ve moved a lot and have had plenty of financial transactions in your life, there’s probably a decent chance that at some point you never received an insurance payout, or perhaps there’s a rent or utility deposit that’s owed to you.
You may have to fill out some paperwork to get those unclaimed funds, but it could result in a decent payday. Or maybe it’ll be a small stimulus of, say, $7. But, still, in case there’s more money with your name attached to it, it’s worth checking out.
Sell Unwanted Items
Michael Morgan, president of TBS Retirement Planning in Hurst, Texas, says this can be a fairly painless way to create your own stimulus check — provided you aren’t selling something that you’ll regret later.
“Do you have jewelry, electronics, workout equipment, designer handbags or shoes, just to name a few ideas, that you are not using and can live without?” Morgan asks. If you do have merchandise you think people would buy, he suggests selling those items on websites such as Facebook Marketplace or eBay.
“You can sell almost anything on these sites,” Morgan says. “Additionally, sites like Etsy give you the opportunity sell your own creations.”
Cut Your Insurance Premiums
Obviously, you don’t want to get inferior insurance that you’ll regret later when you need it, but Morgan suggests shopping around and seeing what’s out there.
Health insurance, car insurance, homeowners insurance — if you haven’t changed policies in years, it may be worth checking to see if there’s a good, cheaper deal out there. If you can get insurance that you consider better — or in the neighborhood of “about as good” — and end up paying considerably less for it, you may well feel like you’re getting your own stimulus check every month.
Slash Subscription Purchases
Now we’re getting into less fun ways to create a stimulus check, but this doesn’t mean you should get rid of a streaming service you really like.
As Fulk says, you may have “blind spots where you could be getting charged for services you no longer want or need.”
He suggests spending some time reviewing your recent credit and debit card statements and taking a good look at where all your money is going.
“You might find a good chunk of change is going to expenses that aren’t a priority,” he says, adding that if you do, ideally, you’ll divert the money into a savings account.
[See: 35 Ways to Save Money.]
Pay Off Debt
This is also not a fun way to get a stimulus check since it may mean short-term pain for long-term gain. Still, it’s hard to argue with the strategy. If you’re often hurting for cash, and especially if you are carrying around revolving high-interest credit card debt, paying it down — and eventually off — is a great way to create financial stimulus.
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