How Women Spend Their COVID Relief Bill Stimulus Check – Community News
Stimulus Check

How Women Spend Their COVID Relief Bill Stimulus Check

Photo: John Piekos/Getty Images

Biden’s government just passed pandemic relief law will give stimulus checks of up to $1,400 per eligible person (individuals earning $80,000 or less, couples earning less than $160,000, and single parents earning up to $120,000). It will also provide those households with up to $1,400 per dependent. At least this will provide some relief for the millions of Americans who have lost revenue due to COVID. For others, it will help meet needs that would otherwise be hard for them to meet. This is what six different women want to spend their checks on.

I just had a baby a few weeks ago and my pregnancy was extremely difficult. I was on bed rest for much of my third trimester and I haven’t worked at all for the past month because I was in and out of the hospital so much. Before that, I had been working at a reduced cadence since December due to health complications. And COVID has taken a huge chunk of my assignments since March of last year. So this past year has been extremely challenging and we haven’t been able to save nearly as much for my maternity leave as I would have liked, even though I rushed a lot.

Our biggest expenses per month are rent, which is $3,100; our car payment, which is $500; and day care for our older child, which is about $900. We’ve been able to keep everything under control because I’ve used my savings and gathered all the help we can get. We got a small housing benefit from the government in January, for about $2,000. And last year we got some unemployment benefits because COVID disrupted our work so much. My husband has his own business, but because it’s so new and has been hit by COVID-19, it’s not really profitable yet.

My maternity leave is completely unpaid, because I am a freelancer. I plan to take as much time as possible until I run out of savings. The stimulus check will make a huge difference. If it’s $1,400 per person, including our kids, that would cover about a full month of our expenses. It gives me the opportunity to take a minimum of three months off before going back to work, which is ideal, especially since I have a lot to recover physically.

The last recession was disastrous for my husband and me. We had a gas station and we pretty much lost everything but each other. When we got out of that situation, we decided that we wanted to live our life very simply. It’s just us and our dogs, that’s all. We found our current job on Craigslist. We manage a home for a private family. They take care of our housing and we take care of their house and their land and make sure that everything runs smoothly. It’s not glamorous – we clean toilets – but we feel incredibly lucky, especially after this past year. The pandemic caused me to lose my sideline as a Pilates teacher, so I used our first two stimulus checks to replace that income. But overall we are financially stable.

My brother’s family, on the other hand, is having a very hard time. He’s only 46, but he suffers from what appears to be early dementia, and my 80-year-old mother helps him and his wife take care of their two daughters, who are 4 and 6. Due to his health, my brother has to take a lot of time off from his job as a landscape gardener and he doesn’t get paid sick leave, so they struggle to make ends meet. Both his wife and my mother also work very hard, but the pandemic has disrupted their income in several ways over the past year, and things have been very tough for them.

I put my last stimulus check into a savings account I started for my nieces. If I have some extra cash, I’ll put it there. I know it’s not a lot of money, but for a lot of people it is – for me it is! And this is the first time in my life that I have the resources to help my family financially, which means a lot.

About a year ago, my salary was cut in half to $2,000 a month. I am a recruiter and as you can imagine my company was not hiring during the pandemic. My 1 year old son and I live with my parents in Westchester, and they were my saving grace. Normally I pay them rent, but they waived it when my income was cut. Still, it was tough, financially and emotionally. I felt bad that I couldn’t contribute as much to the cost of my parents’ house as I normally do. I also had to rely on my son’s father to pay for the childcare costs. I’m eligible for nearly $3,000 in incentive money, which will help me pay them back a little bit. And hopefully I can buy new clothes for my son. He relied on cast-offs, but they only go so far.

I also want to spend the money on continuing my education so that I can get a higher salary in the future. I’m planning to start with an online HR management course, and the incentive check could pay for that. I could also apply for an MBA program and the incentive money could cover the application fee. I’m still counting, and I have student loans from undergrad, so it’s going to be tight. But I hope I can do it.

I’ve had multiple miscarriages since I got married a few years ago and last year we decided to try IVF. Then COVID hit and my salary was cut by 20 percent, which significantly reduced our disposable income. IVF is hard to afford in the beginning, and that made everything more stressful. But the clock is ticking for me, in terms of fertility, so if we’re going to do this, we need to do it now. We used all the money we got for our wedding, plus some of our savings in the first collection. Now we have to do it again because in the first cycle we didn’t get as many embryos as we had hoped.

Between the three procedures — two withdrawals, plus a transfer — we’re going to spend about $40,000 over a three-month span. I took up freelance work after my salary was cut, which helped a bit. We have also saved a lot on our costs. Still, this will wipe out our savings, which is scary and frustrating.

I’ve always wanted to have a family, and my husband reassures me that it’s the best spend of our money right now. But I wish we didn’t have this problem, and I wish we didn’t have to spend so much money on it, especially now that the pandemic has brought so little money. We hoped one day to send that nest egg to a home. The incentive money will help offset these costs a little bit, and anything we can get right now will be helpful.

I run a small business that helps other small businesses determine their growth, primarily through digital marketing. As you can probably imagine, everything came to a standstill last March. All my clients called me and put everything on hold. So my business income is down about 70 percent in the past year. I was eligible for PPS money and that helped us get by. But it has been difficult. My husband and I left out all the non-essentials. We also already live frugally, which is why we’re fine – it’s not like we couldn’t afford health insurance or groceries for our kids, which is lucky.

The incentive check will help a lot to keep my business afloat. I’ve tried to change my business model and develop new services for potential customers, but it costs money to do that. I had to buy software to make videos, and lighting and other equipment. I’ve also revamped my website to prepare myself for when people are ready to start investing in growth again. Now I plan to buy Facebook ads to market myself. This relief money will help pay for all those things and help us in the meantime.

My incentive check goes directly to the rent. After months of unemployment, I’ve cut my expenses to next to nothing, so rent is the only doozy left. In fact, I pay exactly $1,400 per month, the same amount as the stimulus check. So the whole thing goes straight to my landlord when the time comes.

I’m eager to work. I just don’t get a call. It’s hard because everyone seems so optimistic now — like there’s vaccines, spring has sprung, stimulus checks, hurrah — and that’s great, but it doesn’t change the fact that so many people are still unemployed, including me. The economy will not recover overnight. I am an independent contractor in TV production and things are starting to improve in the industry, but not for me yet.

I’ve had work drop by drop for the past year. From March to the end of July there was nothing at all, but after that I worked quite constantly from August to mid-December. Then things dried up again. I’ve been able to get unemployment, but the money is much tighter than I’d like. I’ve always been frugal and good at saving, and that’s the main thing that kept me from falling behind on rent. The stimulus check will help; It’s nice that there’s a month I don’t have to worry about. I could go on for a while, even though I wish I could just work instead.

This post has been updated.