President-elect Joe Biden’s pitch this week for a quick, third round of coronavirus relief payments looks closer to becoming reality.
Since last week, most Americans have been receiving their second COVID “stimulus checks,” for $600, after an attempt to raise the amount to $2,000 failed in the closing days of 2020.
On Monday, Biden said $2,000 checks could “go out the door” soon if voters in Georgia gave him a Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate — and now, that’s happened.
Here’s what we can currently say about whether and when you’re likely to see a third stimulus check.
Vote results in Georgia set wheels in motion for new checks
Biden made his remarks about $2,000 checks at a campaign rally in Georgia, where Democrats were trying to unseat incumbent Republican U.S. senators in a pair of runoff elections held on Tuesday.
The results were close, but both races have now been called for the Democratic challengers — which flips control of the Senate from the Republicans to the Democrats and gives Biden’s party majorities in both houses of Congress.
That could make it easier for his proposals, like $2,000 stimulus checks, to become reality.
“That money will go out the door immediately to help people who are in real trouble” if the Democrats won both runoffs, Biden said at the rally.
Many struggling consumers have been eager for the government to keep sending cash. Americans largely used their first stimulus payments for basics like groceries and utility bills, a survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found.
Some also invested the money, the survey said, or used it to meet various other needs. Those may have included buying affordable life insurance, as sales of policies have surged amid the pandemic.
What’s the possible timing on new checks?
The new Senate majority leader, New York Democrat Chuck Schumer, is on board with getting more money out quickly.
“One of the first things that I want to do when our new senators are seated, is deliver the $2,000 checks to the American families,” Schumer said at a news conference on Wednesday. “Help is on the way.”
It’s important to note that when Biden, Schumer and others talk about pushing out “$2,000 stimulus checks,” it’s unclear at this point whether they’re talking about new payments of $2,000 — or $1,400, to be added to the $600 Americans are currently getting.
The timing of the fresh cash also is a bit hard to pin down.
Biden says “immediately,” but he’s not scheduled to take office until Jan. 20. So, if there will be fresh relief payments, you’re not likely to get one until February, at the earliest.
What if you need more than $600 right now?
If the coronavirus has your family in a financial bind and you need more help right now than the latest $600 checks, here are a few ideas to pull together some money on your own:
Reduce your spending where you can. Cut loose any subscription services you’re not using. Do more of your own cooking and stop ordering carryout so much. And download a free browser add-on that will save you money every time you shop online by instantly checking for better prices and coupons.
Cut the cost of your debt. If you’ve been leaning on your credit cards during the coronavirus crisis, you’re probably piling up a mountain of interest. Rein in your credit card debt — and make it go away more quickly — by rolling your balances into a single debt consolidation loan at a lower interest rate.
Stop paying too much for insurance. As Americans have cut back on their driving this year, many car insurance companies have lowered their rates. But if your insurer won’t give you a break, it’s time to shop around for a better option. You also might save hundreds on your homeowners insurance by comparing rates to find a better deal.
Refinance your mortgage and slash your payments. Mortgage rates are the lowest in history, and refinancing your existing home loan could provide huge savings. Mortgage tech and data provider Black Knight says 19.4 million U.S. homeowners could cut their monthly house payments by an average $308 per month through a refi.