You’ve heard the news: Uncle Sam is sending out cash. Are you wondering, “Where is MY stimulus check?”
Here are some possibilities as to where your stimulus check might be, how you can check on it, and when you should expect to get it. We’ll also share information on how much money you might get from the stimulus package.
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Where’s My Stimulus Check?
Some stimulus payments have already been sent out. The first group of checks has hit bank accounts as early as April 15. The IRS is sending them out in groups, so your stimulus payment funds may not have been released yet. In any case, you should expect the money soon.
Know that if you chose to use Direct Deposit when you filed your taxes, any stimulus benefits you’re eligible for will go to the bank account you designated when you filed your taxes.
However, your stimulus check will be mailed to your home address if you received a paper check refund, or if the IRS doesn’t have your bank account information online.
Can I Track My Stimulus Check?
Yes, you can track your stimulus check. The IRS has set up a web page that allows you to track your stimulus check. When you visit the Get My Payment page, you’ll be asked to enter some personal information.
After you enter your Social Security number, birth-date and address, you’ll get a message regarding your stimulus check.
The message will tell you one of four things:
- Your stimulus check has been scheduled to be deposited into your bank account
- There’s been a check mailed to you
- Your payment is still in process
- The IRS cannot determine your eligibility for payment at this time
You may need to contact the IRS if you need more information, but expect a long phone wait if you do.
What if I Don’t File a Tax Return?
What if you don’t file taxes, or if you make too little money to file taxes? Luckily, you likely still qualify for a stimulus check, and the IRS has a form for that.
If by chance, you make too little money to need to file taxes, you can fill out a “non-filers” form with the IRS. Filling out this form will help you start the process to receive your stimulus check.
Here’s the information you’ll need if you have to fill out the non-filers form:
- Full name, current mailing address and an email address
- Date of birth and valid Social Security number
- Bank account number, type and routing number, if you have one
- Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) you received from the IRS earlier this year if you have one
- Driver’s license or state-issued ID, if you have one
- For each qualifying child: name, Social Security number or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number and their relationship to you or your spouse
You’ll also have to create an account with a password for the site. Once you’ve filled out the form correctly, you’ll get a notice from the IRS confirming that they’ve received it.
How Much Stimulus Money Will I Get?
The IRS stimulus checks are distributed in varying amounts depending on your Adjusted Gross Income line from your tax return. If you qualify for the maximum payout amount, you’ll get $1200 for yourself ($2400 if you’re married) and $500 for each dependent child under the age of 17.
That could add up to a lot of money if you have younger kids.
If the IRS has your 2019 tax return processed, they’ll use those numbers to determine your payout amount. If it doesn’t, they’ll use your 2018 figures to determine the payout amount.
And, if you usually file taxes, but haven’t filed for 2018 or 2019, the IRS suggests you file those returns as soon as possible. Doing so will help you get your stimulus check faster.
If you’ve made over the income limit that qualifies for the maximum payout ($75,000 for singles, $150,000 for marrieds and $112,000 for head of household), you could still get a smaller check.
However, if you’ve made over the maximum limits for the stimulus check benefits, you won’t get anything.
The maximum AGI limits for the program are as follows:
- $99,000 for singles
- $198,000 for couples
- $136,500 for heads of household
If your adjusted gross income is at or above these amounts, you don’t have a check coming. Again, the government uses the Adjusted Gross Income line to determine your income when it comes to stimulus benefit amounts.
What to do With Your Stimulus Check
You might be wondering what you’re going to do with your stimulus check cash windfall. We’ve got suggestions for both those who authentically need the money and those who can count it as extra.
I Need My Stimulus Check Money
Maybe you’ve found yourself in a position where you genuinely need your stimulus check funds. Perhaps your hours at work have been cut, or you’ve been laid off, and you need the stimulus money to make up for the loss of regular income.
If that’s the case, we strongly encourage you to use it or save it for necessary living expenses. Pay your rent or mortgage payment–or at least part of it. Pay your utilities or use the money for groceries.
Or keep it in a savings account until next month’s rent or mortgage payment is due if you think you’ll be short on money later. I know this is a stressful time, and it might be tempting to buy something new and shiny with the cash.
But do yourself a favor and keep the money designated for necessary expenses. It’s essential to pay your bills on time for several reasons.
First, paying your bills on time will help protect your credit score. Protecting your credit score isn’t just important for borrowing purposes. Your credit score can be used to calculate insurance rates, and it could also be used to determine whether you get a job you apply for too.
Second, paying bills late often results in late payment fees. Plus, if you pay credit cards late, the credit card company could raise your interest rate also. And a higher interest rate on your credit cards means it could take longer to pay off your credit cards.
Note: Many companies are offering delayed payment options during the COVID-19 situation. However, be sure to read the fine print before delaying any loan payments due to COVID-19.
Some companies are tacking on interest charges and fees to those who are taking them up on payment forbearance.
I Don’t Need My Stimulus Check Money
Possibly, you’re lucky enough to not really need the stimulus money you’ll receive. If that’s your situation, here are some other suggestions for what you might do with it.
Beef Up Your Emergency Fund
We suggest your emergency fund have at least six months of living expenses in it. But if you’re really looking for added security, 12 months of expenses are better. So use your stimulus check to beef up your emergency fund if you don’t have at six to 12 months of expenses in it already.
Yet, if you’re in the process of paying off debt, you could just stick with a $1,000 “starter” emergency fund, as Dave Ramsey suggests. Then you could add more to your emergency fund when you pay off your consumer debt.
However, if your job is at risk due to COVID-19, you may want to have more than 1k in your emergency fund–even if you’re working on debt reduction.
Pay Down Debt
Maybe you’ve got your daily living expenses and emergency fund covered, but you’re carrying consumer or other debt. If that’s the case, you could use the extra cash to make a lump sum payment toward your debt balances.
Just make sure that if you’re paying extra on your mortgage balance, you code this payment as a “principal only” payment so that the mortgage company doesn’t apply it toward later payments. By doing this, you will cut down on the amount of interest you pay on the loan over time.
Invest the Cash
You could take your stimulus money and invest it if you don’t need it for expenses. How about making a retirement plan investment contribution?
Take a good look at your investment portfolio and see where you might want to add some extra funds and potentially increase your net worth.
Give it to a Charitable Cause
Another option for using your stimulus money if you don’t need it is to give it away. There are hundreds of worthwhile charitable organizations hurting for cash right now.
Food shelves are in need of food to accommodate extra requests. Local United Way chapters are serving families as needed.
Or maybe you’ve got a family, friend or neighbor you know is struggling right now. Why not send them an anonymous cashier’s check that they can use to pay the rent or other expenses?
Also, it doesn’t hurt to do a few extra good deeds during times like these. Perhaps you can think of other creative ways to be generous toward those you know who could use your help right now.
If you qualify for and are still waiting on your stimulus check, don’t worry. It’s likely on the way. And when you get it, be sure to use it responsibly.