Never mind all the noise over whether Americans will get a second coronavirus "stimulus check." Nearly 9 million people never got their first relief payment.
If you’re in that group, you now have a bit more time to claim some cash.
The IRS this week extended the deadline to register for an "economic impact payment" to Nov. 21 — five weeks later than the previous end date of Oct. 15.
The extension gives people who don’t typically file a tax return the chance to get one of the $1,200 COVID-19 aid payments most of the country has already received.
Americans with low incomes that fall below IRS thresholds are not required to submit a tax return. But to receive relief money, they'll need to get themselves on the tax agency's radar — by supplying their contact information on the IRS website.
"Time is running out for those who don't normally file a tax return to get their payments," says IRS Commission Chuck Rettig in a news release. He adds that "registration is quick and easy."
It's free money — and you probably need it urgently.
Good uses for your stimulus check
With unemployment high and the economy still struggling to recover from the coronavirus crisis, you might need the cash to help put food on the table or pay routine bills.
Or, you could save the windfall. Most financial experts recommend setting aside enough money in an emergency fund to cover six months' worth of your regular expenses — and your relief payment is a great excuse to get the ball rolling.
Just make sure to park your emergency fund in a high-yield savings account so it will earn more than the usual interest and grow over time.
You also might also want to use a portion of your stimulus check to clear out some of your debt, especially if you’ve been leaning on your credit cards for support during the pandemic.
Or you could put some of your check toward buying affordable life insurance, to protect your family if something unexpected were to happen to you. Depending on your age and your desired coverage amount, you might be able to get a policy for less than $1 a day.
No matter how you plan to use your stimulus check, it’s vital that you take a few minutes to register online before it’s too late.
Negotiations have stalled over a second stimulus package, and it could be a long wait before the next relief payments goes out — if there even is a second round.
What to do if you need another $1,200 ASAP
If you’ve already collected your initial stimulus check and are having trouble making ends meet, there are several things you can do to add some extra money to your bank account fast.
In other words, give yourself a stimulus check. You could:
Pick up a side gig. If you’ve got a hobby like writing, drawing or graphic design, there are online marketplaces that can help you cash in on your talents. It takes just a few minutes to create a profile, and you can instantly start selling your services to customers looking for what you’re offering.
Take advantage of online discounts. You’ve probably been doing a lot more shopping online during the pandemic, and there’s a good chance you’re paying more than you need to. But you can download a free browser extension that will automatically price-check the items in your cart and find you deals and coupons to help you save every time you buy online.
Cut down your car insurance bill. You may be able to save more than $1,000 a year by shopping around for a better car insurance rate. Each time your policy comes up for renewal, compare rates from multiple insurers to make sure you’re not overpaying. Comparing rates online takes only a few minutes and is totally free.
Refinance your mortgage. If you’ve got a mortgage, you could potentially save hundreds of dollars a month by refinancing into one of today’s ultra-low rates. Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are hovering around 3%, and your current rate is probably much higher. If you do decide to trade in your existing loan, make certain your closing costs won’t outweigh the amount you’ll save.