Catching Up on Rent, Splurging on a Vacation: How 3 Americans Are Spending Their Stimulus Checks


Dental bills. New shoes and clothing for school. A day out for their kids. After living through 12 months of a global pandemic, these are just a few of the things some Americans — many of whom have lost work or incurred extra Covid-related expenses — are planning to spend the third stimulus check on when it hits their bank accounts.

Hundreds of people wrote into CNBC Make It to detail how they plan to spend the economic impact payments currently being disbursed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as part of the American Rescue Plan. Many of them described the payments, worth up to $1,400 for each eligible taxpayer and dependent, as blessings, saying they would help them catch up on bills they've fallen behind on or pay for sorely needed essentials.

A full year into the coronavirus pandemic, unemployment levels remain high. Stacey Starkey, a mother of two living in Vermont, has been out of work since March 2020.

Starkey, 37, says it's been hard to find new work when she is also responsible for homeschooling her 11-year-old daughter (her other daughter is 18). Her stimulus payment will be used to pay overdue bills.

"I intend to do what's best [and] make it stretch as far as possible," Starkey says.

Spencer Richards, 32, has lost two jobs over the course of the pandemic. The Utah resident used the first two stimulus payments for necessities like rent and food, and plans to use the $4,200 he, his spouse and child qualify for in the third round for a surgery he needs for a degenerative eye disease insurance won't fully cover.

"I worry about the potential consequences of our government taking on so much debt so quickly, but the payments have benefited my family greatly," Richards says.

While millions are relying on the direct payments to help pay off bills and other essential expenses, many other Americans are looking forward to a once-in-a-lifetime splurge. Many people said they will use the checks to visit family members when it is safer to travel.

Katie Kopiec, 47, falls into that category. Kopiec did not lose income during the pandemic, but says she considers the stimulus money restitution for everything else people have given up throughout the past year. She is saving hers to visit her daughter, whom she hasn't seen since the start of the pandemic, in Tennessee.

"To us, this means something extra for everything we've lost in this awful year," she says.

Don't miss: Here's how to track the status of the third stimulus payment

Check out: Use this calculator to see exactly how much your third coronavirus stimulus check could be worth

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