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Saturday, February 4, 2023

While A Federal Stimulus Check Remains A Distant Prospect, Other Avenues Open Up

The federal stimulus checks ended in 2021 with the expanded Child Tax Credit stimulus check. Despite the inflation and the resultant rise in prices that broke 4-decade-old records. But the political inflexibility of the Republican opposition and the betrayal by a couple of Democratic Party Senators ensured that it became impossible for President Biden to declare any stimulus check in 2022.

Close to 50% of American states stepped in with relief measures for residents. They were aided by the American Rescue Plan Act funds signed by President Biden in March 2021, within weeks of assuming power. But the funds have been one-time stimulus checks and are nowhere near the comprehensive support afforded by the federal stimulus checks.

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But the state stimulus checks have afforded residents some relief from the record inflation that saw prices of some products reaching record levels. The price of gasoline reached close to doubling in two years, something that affected overall prices.

There has been an overall demand for another round of stimulus checks, with two-thirds of respondents saying that they were strongly for the federal government sending at least another round of stimulus checks to tackle the record inflation.

This high inflation rate has led to negative growth in wages despite a generous rise of around 3.5% post the pandemic. the COVID-19 pandemic did not just unleash a scary virus on the unprepared world, it also led to large-scale economic chaos. This chaos continues to affect world economies to this date, and developed countries of Europe and America have been as affected as other nations. 

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The inflation is believed to be an offshoot of the pandemic, though the Democrats and the Republicans have differed on the exact reason behind the record prices that continue to assail Americans more than a year after the end of the pandemic.

The signs of inflation were very much present in 2021 when one year into the nationwide shutdown in America, the inflation rate crept up to 4.71%. By June 2022, a couple of years into the pandemic, the rate had climbed to a stupendous 9.1%, the highest since November 1981.

Emergency measures initiated by the Federal administration and the Federal Reserve arrested the tide. The Federal Reserve hiked interest rates and by November 2022, inflation has marginally subsidized to 7.1%, still multiple times above the normal rate that endured till the second quarter of 2021.

The only silver lining in these troubled times for the American economy is that rates have a way of settling down even though they may reach excruciating highs. In 1980 inflation had risen to 13.55% before it came back to less than 2% by 1986. But it is in the present situation that Americans find themselves hopelessly desperate for some form of support from the federal administration.

Biden Creates A New Year Buzz With A Tweet

The promise of “more progress in the new year” by President Biden has created a buzz and caught the attention of many. Many Americans interpreted that to mean that it was the signal that another round of stimulus checks is around the corner.

Numerous news channels and websites have reported on the tweet within days. It has offered hope that everyday Americans could be in for another round of stimulus checks.

There are fears that another round of federal stimulus checks could further affect prices and lead to another round of inflation. But hope lingers for households as they continue to struggle with rising bills and prices of everything from gasoline to groceries.

For others, the tweet was only meant to be what it appeared at face value. The US president was merely highlighting his achievements in 2022 and hoping that more progress could be made in the coming new year.

Joe Biden realizes that he has an uphill task in hand, having lost control of the House of Representatives. The odds of the Republicans backing any form of stimulus checks are close to nil.

Measures That Americans Can Take To Stretch Their Income

But despite the toughness of the present situation, there are measures that Americans have at their disposal that can ease the pressure of unrelenting rise in prices. Several things can help people free up money and permit them to take care of their regular obligations without falling short of money.

One of the easiest measures for saving cash is to switch car insurance. Insurance companies give discounts between 1 and 2.7% to loyal customers. But shopping around and switching to a new company can save you as much as 19% on your car. A monthly payment of $100 can come down to $81.

Transferring credit card balances is another way to save money in the absence of stimulus checks. There are credit cards in the market that offer a zero percent promotional rate. This balance transfer offer lasts between 12 and 18 months on average. That gives you up to 18 months to pay off your debts or bring them down to more manageable levels even as you save substantially on the promotional offer.

If you do not pay off the debt by then, the interest rate reverts to the standard rate of the new card company.

But you would need an excellent credit rating to qualify for such offers. While the exact score is for the credit card company to decide, normally a score above 670 is the standard required for availing of such offers.

Giving out excess home space for renting out to someone is another way to make some extra cash. Uploading your excess space on the neighborhood site can bring you some cash.

You should also close down excess bank accounts as it will only multiply your charges. You can thus avoid paying unnecessary bank fees. Finding an app for the best deals on every purchase is another way to earn money.

Setting up auto-payment for regular bills can save you money as companies offer a discount on such automatic clearance. You need to go through your utility bills and credit cards for such specific offers that you may have missed while paying your bills. It can result in significant monthly savings.

One of the biggest drains on your income is subscriptions that you do not avail of, but pay regularly. Look up your bank account for such subscriptions and cancel them immediately.

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