Negotiators in Washington say they haven’t finished talking, and haven’t given up on providing you with a second $1,200 relief payment.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin have blown past several self-imposed deadlines and have continued their bargaining on an economic rescue package that would include more of those “stimulus checks.”
Pelosi told CNN on Sunday that a deal “could happen” this week and that she expects Mnuchin to respond to the latest Democratic proposal on Monday.
But each side accuses the other of — surprise — playing politics ahead of the election.
Here’s where things stand on whether you might get more crisis cash from the government in the coming weeks.
Second stimulus checks: What’s going on?
Your first — and so far only — pandemic payment from the government probably seems like ancient history by now, because it’s been more than six months since the IRS started distributing the earlier stimulus checks. (Which were mostly direct deposits, not checks.)
A survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found nearly 6 in 10 Americans (59%) used the money to pay expenses: They primarily bought found, paid utility bills, and spent the cash on household items like cleaners and shampoo.
Some also saved the money or invested it.
A small percentage said it went toward “other” expenses — which might have included buying affordable life insurance to protect family members if a breadwinner died from the virus. Life insurance sales have been surging this year.
The typical stimulus payment was $1,200, though Americans with higher incomes got less, or nothing at all. Families received $500 per child, but only up to age 16.
In early October, the Democratic-controlled U.S. House approved a wide-ranging $2.2 trillion bill offering another $1,200 for most people, plus $500 per dependent. But the House needs to get an agreement with the Republicans in charge of the Senate and White House.
Secretary Mnuchin has upped the White House offer to nearly $1.9 trillion.
How soon could you get more stimulus money?
With unemployment still high and with COVID-19 infection spiking again in many parts of the country and bringing fears of new lockdowns, many consumers have been praying for another $1,200.
Speaker Pelosi said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union program that she remains optimistic that a deal can be reached before Election Day, Nov. 3.
“I’ll never give up hope,” she said. “I’m optimistic.” But Pelosi also complained that Republicans keep “moving the goal post.”
Earlier on the CNN show, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows used the same football reference to describe what he said the speaker and her side are doing.
No one gets any money until negotiators can settle on a bill that would pass the House and Senate, then be signed by President Donald Trump.
The Senate has been a big question mark, but Meadows said if the White House can make a deal with the Democrats, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is willing to get it passed.
If everything can come together before the election, money could start finding its way into Americans pockets by the end of November.
The cash could flow relatively quickly after legislation is signed, because the government has already been through the process once this year.
But if new relief for Americans has to wait until after the election, stimulus checks wouldn’t go out before December, at the earliest.
What do you do while you wait?
If your budget is completely tapped out and you could seriously use an extra $1,200 right now, here are a few ways to find that cash on your own — and stop waiting for Washington to get its act together.
- Cut the cost of your debt. Nearly half of Americans (45%) say they’d save their next stimulus payment, while about 31% say they’d use it to pay down debt, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has found. If you’re in that second camp because of high credit card balances, you could make them more manageable by rolling them into a debt consolidation loan at a lower interest rate. You’ll make the debt less expensive and replace a bunch of monthly payments with just one.
- Slash your insurance bills. Car insurance companies have been lowering their rates because Americans are driving less this year. If your insurer won’t cut you a break, shop around for a better one. And when your homeowners insurance comes due, get rate quotes from competing home insurers and compare them — to get the best deal on your coverage.
- Refinance your mortgage. If you’ve got a mortgage and haven’t refinanced yet in 2020, it’s time. Thanks to this year’s lowest mortgage rates on record, more than 19 million homeowners could reduce their monthly payments by around $300 through a refi, says data firm Black Knight.
- Muzzle your monthly spending. Looking into whether you can dump your cable and use a less expensive streaming service. Fight the urge to order delivery and make dinner in your own kitchen. And, download a free browser extension that will find you the best price every time you shop online.
- Pick up a side gig. Earn extra money by getting yourself a side hustle. Turn a hobby into a source of income; you can use an online marketplace to find someone who’d be happy to put your talents and skills to work.