Your 2nd stimulus check: The possible timing, now that Congress left town
Mon, November 2, 2020, 8:05 AM CST
If you’ve been hoping news of a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks would come any day now, it’s time to stop scanning the headlines.
Last week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (pictured) adjourned the upper chamber until Nov. 9, eliminating any chance for a resolution until after the election.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin have continued to butt heads over the terms of a deal. Meanwhile, cases of COVID-19 continue to spike across the U.S., and fears of new lockdowns are growing by the day.
Here’s the latest on the possible timing of fresh aid payments, which could still come fairly soon.
What’s taking them so long?
It has been more than six months since the IRS started sending out the initial round of stimulus checks, and the deadline to claim your payment — if you haven’t gotten one yet — is only a few weeks away.
Republicans and Democrats have disagreed on a number of issues regarding the next stimulus package — everything from unemployment benefits to the language the government uses when talking about the coronavirus.
But the most divisive issue has been the size and scope of the relief package itself.
Speaker Pelosi was negotiating on behalf of a $2.2 trillion Democratic package that passed the U.S. House in early October. It called for giving Americans another $1,200 payment, plus an additional $500 per dependent.
The White House was willing to go as far as about $1.9 trillion, including more stimulus checks. Meanwhile, the Republicans leading the Senate offered a roughly $500 billion “skinny” bill, with no second round of direct payments. That proposal fizzled.
In a letter to Secretary Mnuchin on Oct. 29, Pelosi said Washington needed to take action immediately.
What’s the possible timing now?
“The American people are suffering,” the speaker wrote, “and they want us to come to an agreement to save lives, livelihoods and the life of our American democracy as soon as possible.”
A survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that close to 60% of Americans used their first stimulus checks to pay for basic expenses like groceries and utilities.
Some also invested the cash or found other, unspecified purposes for the money. Those may have included buying affordable life insurance; sales of life insurance policies have surged this year, amid the pandemic.
Pelosi indicated during a news conference on Thursday that she’s hopeful of getting a deal with the White House after the election and before the new year. But Senate Republican leader McConnell said in a radio interview that any aid measure would wait until “right at the beginning” of 2021.
President Donald Trump told reporters on Friday, “We will have a tremendous stimulus package immediately after the election.”
If a breakthrough comes quickly after Election Day, money could start flowing to Americans in December. Earlier this year, it took about two and a half weeks for the government to start getting payments out after the president signed the legislation.
But experts say if Republicans lose the White House and Senate, they may have little interest in striking a deal — so a rescue package would have to hold for the new Congress and new administration in January. That could mean no second stimulus checks before February.
What to do in the meantime
Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley / Shutterstock
If you can’t wait until December or later to maybe get some more money in your pocket, here are some ideas for how you can find an extra $1,200 on your own.
Trim down your debt. If you’ve been coasting by on your credit cards during the pandemic, you’re likely racking up a mountain of interest. You may be able to reduce the amount you’re losing — and become debt-free sooner — by rolling your current balances into a single debt consolidation loan at a lower interest rate.
Cut your insurance bills. Americans have been driving a lot less this year, and as a result, many car insurance companies have lowered their rates. If your insurer won’t cut you a break, it’s time to start shopping around for a better option. You might also be able to save some money on your homeowners insurance by comparing quotes from multiple companies.
Refinance your mortgage. Mortgage rates are lower than ever right now, and refinancing your current loan could save you a bundle. According to the data firm Black Knight, more than 19 million American homeowners could bring down their payments by around $300 per month with a refi.
Pump the brakes on your spending. Get rid of any subscription services you don’t use. Order in less and prepare more meals at home. And download a free browser extension that will ensure you get the best price available whenever you shop online.
Earn cash back on your groceries. There’s a free app out there that will earn you cash-back rewards on your groceries just by snapping a picture of your receipt. It may not be enough to cover your rent for the month, but when times are tight every extra dollar helps.
Don’t let your talents go to waste. Got a hobby like writing, drawing or web design? You may be able to turn your talents into extra income by picking up a side gig through an online marketplace. Once you start getting gigs and accumulating positive reviews, you can raise the price of your services and bring in even more money.