Today Congress approved the largest economic relief bill in US history to help individuals and businesses cope with the financial impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic. An incredible $2.2 TRILLION has been committed to more causes than I can list here, so I thought it seemed timely to pose this unconventional question…
What if you’re still working and don’t actually need your portion of the stimulus package that is expected to be delivered in the next couple of weeks???
For those of us who are fortunate enough to still be receiving a regular paycheck through this disaster – and between essential services and remote workers, there are a lot of us – this unexpected windfall is a unique opportunity for us to pay it forward to others around us who might be struggling financially because their own businesses have closed or cutback, or maybe they’ve fallen through the cracks and aren’t able to count on a relief check themselves.
Here are a few ideas of ways that I thought we could help!
1. Become a big tipper.
A lot of folks in the restaurant industry have already gotten laid off, but for those still coming in to offer drive through or carryout service, what a great chance to be one of those big tippers that people like to brag about during the holidays who tip 50 – 100% of their check!
Hint – You don’t have to take a picture for Instagram when you do it … in fact it’s actually kind of tacky if you do. Their genuine appreciation for your “Thanks for keeping me fed during this crisis!”-act should be all of the likes you need… 😉
2. Show your favorite small businesses some love!
This can cover everything from patronizing your favorite local pizza place and leaving an extra tip or taking advantage of special sales that local businesses are running to drum up business.
Got some yardwork that you’ve been putting off? Splurge and hire a local landscaping company to take it off your hands.
Need some new family photos? Propose an outdoor photo shoot to your favorite freelance photographer.
Order a commission from an artist or a new book from a local author and score yourself some great art to enjoy during these challenging times, and know that you’re helping to support someone you love to boot!
3. Invest in education.
With so many schools turning to online learning to finish out the year and parents to pick up the slack, what better time to grab some teaching tools to help make the transition a little less painful until our schools are ready to welcome our kids back to class?
My kids are in kindergarten and pre-school, so a favorite resource of ours is a series of DVDs and workbooks by a company called Preschool Prep. They’re currently running a HUGE SALE while schools are out to help get their products into the hands of as many kids as possible, and I’m sure that if you do some searching, there are likely lots of educational companies doing the same type of thing selling flashcards and books, educational games, and you name it.
ABCmouse.com is one of many online learning systems and they’ve currently got their subscriptions substantially discounted, too.
And if you find yourself without the technology in your home to do these types of online learning exercises, maybe now is a good time to pick up a Chromebook or a tablet specifically for your child to use for furthering their education.
3b. Invest in yourself, too.
While we’re at it, why not order a few books about coding or becoming a better manager and devote some of the time you’re saving by not commuting to improving yourself for new opportunities in the future!
4. Give to local charities.
I prefer local charities to the national chapters because it’s nice to see my dollars staying in our community to help people who are struggling right here at home.
Two that I’m particularly fond of are Feeding Tampa Bay and Metropolitan Ministries because they specifically focus on keeping the homeless and underprivileged here in Tampa fed, clothed, and sheltered, and based on how the stimulus package is structured, these folks are more likely to miss out on the help that they desperately need during this unprecedented pandemic.
5. Save some for a rainy day.
And last but not least, after a few weeks of this I think we can all agree that unpredictability is the name of the game right now, so it’s probably not a bad idea to tuck at least some of your stimulus check away in a savings account just in case things change in the months to come and you suddenly find yourself out of work or with additional expenses, etc…
I know it’s going to be tempting, particularly if you still have a steady paycheck, to go out and buy a brand new TV or a new video game system and a stack of games, and I’m not even saying don’t buy any games!
We need entertainment and fun to help get us through these troubled times, too.
But keep in mind that the main reason these checks are being issued is because even as I’m writing this now, there are already millions of Americans suddenly facing unemployment and unsure of how they’re going to pay their next rent checks or feed their families, and that’s way more important than frivolous purchases.
Instead, sit down and really give it some thought, and think about what you can do to help make life a little easier for the people in your community who are struggling to varying degrees at the unwashed hands of this devastating disease.
It’s fun to help other people, and this stimulus check is going to be a great opportunity for many of us to come to the table and really do some good!