Dozens of lawmakers in the House and the Senate think Americans should get a fourth pandemic relief payment, but whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other congressional leaders will make it happen remains to be seen.
The idea has Washington divided: Republicans can be counted on to oppose another stimulus check, and moderate Democrats may need persuading to get on board.
But if you’re eager for another payment, to help you cover your bills and pay down debt, more federal money may already be out there.
Here are a few ways to get what might be considered a fresh stimulus check, without having to wait for Congress to pass new legislation.
Monthly stimulus checks for families start up soon
Starting July 15, the IRS will send out monthly payments to nearly 39 million households, under a temporary expansion of the child tax credit.
The beefed-up credit, which was included in the COVID stimulus bill President Joe Biden signed in March, offers families $250 a month for each child ages 6 to 17, and $300 for every kid younger than 6, for the rest of the year.
The checks will provide half the credit for 2021. The rest can be taken as refunds when parents file income taxes next year.
If your family has submitted a return this year, the IRS should have enough information to provide your child credit payments automatically. The tax agency recently introduced a portal where households can check their eligibility for the cash and make certain it will be directed to the correct bank account.
Homeowners can get stimulus checks
Though the pandemic ushered in ultra-low mortgage rates that have showered certain homeowners with refinance savings, many others are still struggling to make their house payments.
If you’re having trouble staying current on your mortgage and worry you might be headed for delinquency or even foreclosure, the government has money to help. Biden’s COVID rescue package from March created a $10 billion homeowner assistance fund, with a minimum $50 million appropriated for each state.
You can apply for money through your state’s housing agency.
To get your share of the funds, you’ll have to provide evidence you’re under financial stress due to COVID. You’re eligible if you earn no more than 150% of your area’s median income, and as long as your loan balance doesn’t exceed $548,250.
Stimulus cash is available for renters, too
In the two most recent pandemic relief bills — the one from March and an earlier one signed in December — Congress approved a total of $46.6 billion in emergency aid for tenants who can’t afford their rent.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition calls the amount of support available for renters “unprecedented.” You qualify for help if you can show that the pandemic has impacted your ability to pay rent or utilities, and that you’re facing a risk of homelessness.
Renters can get up to 18 months of assistance to cover both missed and future rent. Here are a couple of examples of what that looks like in the states: Eligible renters in Texas can receive as much as $4,600 a month; in Illinois, they can get lump sums of up to $25,000.
The funds are being distributed by more than 400 state and local agencies.
What about a real fourth stimulus check?
Scores of federal lawmakers and well over 2.5 million petition signers have made the case that many Americans still require financial assistance due to ongoing disruptions from the pandemic.
Some proposals call for at least one more, conventional stimulus check. Others seek regular payments of $2,000, or want checks to be sent out automatically in response to certain financial triggers.
Supporters of additional relief say households need it to cover the essentials: food and housing. But surveys have found that the last stimulus checks were mostly used to reduce debt or invest in stocks.
The Democrats who control Congress could include a fourth stimulus check in a new multi-trillion-dollar spending bill they hope to pass using a budget trick that would let them sidestep Republicans. But most of Congress is out now until July 19, then lawmakers return for only two weeks before their long summer break.
Other ways to find relief
If you’re not eligible for the family stimulus checks or the others, you have plenty of ways to dig up additional cash on your own while Washington sorts out whether there will be another garden-variety government payment.
Deal with your debt. If you’re carrying multiple credit card balances and other high-interest debt, sweep them into a single debt consolidation loan. You’ll have only one payment to budget around, and the lower interest rate will slash the cost of your debt and help you pay it off faster.
Reduce your home costs with a refi. If you’re a homeowner who hasn’t refinanced your mortgage in the past year, you could be missing out on major savings. With mortgage rates under 3% again, mortgage technology and data provider Black Knight estimates that more than 14 million Americans could save an average $287 a month by refinancing.
Make savings your policy. Take a look at what you’re paying for insurance. A little comparison shopping could save you a ton when the time comes to renew or buy homeowners insurance. Shopping around also works well for finding a lower rate on car insurance.
Save on the essentials. Prices can be all over the place when you shop online. Avoid paying too much by downloading a free browser add-on that will automatically hunt for lower prices and coupons before you click “buy.”
Turn your pennies into profits. Finally, you don’t need another stimulus check to earn returns in today’s red-hot stock market. A wildly popular app helps you invest in a diversified portfolio using little more than your “spare change” from everyday purchases.