CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - How should you spend your federal stimulus check?
It all depends on how your finances are doing.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is assuring Americans that direct payments are on the way.
On Friday, the treasury department announced it will start mailing checks to individual taxpayers on April 9.
But not everyone will get their money right away.
Secretary Mnuchin said the stimulus payments would first be sent to people with the lowest incomes.
The IRS expects to send out about five million a week, a process that could take several months to complete.
Your check amount is based on your income--up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples, plus $500 per child.
So what should you do if you get the money?
“If I was a doctor I would say the prescription depends on the patient,” said Christian Nsiah, PhD, professor of finance and economics at Baldwin Wallace University.
“Different people have different needs, and so of course people that have lost income and have reduced wages, if they need to use this money to supplement what the unemployment insurance money is and the other funding that they have, sure, go ahead and use the money for that,” Nsiah said.
But if you haven't lost your job, Nsiah has different advice.
“There is a reason why they really didn't call it a ‘stimulus package.’ It's called a ‘relief.’ Why? It's not because the economy has shrunk because we have economic issues. This is the fact that the economy shrunk because we have healthcare issues, right. We have a public health issue. So I wouldn't suggest people go out and spend, spend, spend to bring the economy back to life. What are you going to spend it on, I can't even go to the mall today right?” Nsiah said.
Here's what he suggests.
First, put the check in your emergency funds, enough to cover three to six months of your bills and expenses.
Next, pay off debt.
If you have those steps covered, you can invest in things like your retirement or your child's college savings account.
And if you're lucky enough-- use it to help others.
“You don't need the money? Then what I suggest is consider helping your neighbors. You have elderly in your community, you can buy groceries for them. And things like that. That will make you also a happy person. That will make you feel good about yourself,” Nsiah said.
19 News learned social security recipients will now automatically receive stimulus pay.
They will not have to file a tax return to get a payment, as they were previously told.
“If you get it, use it wisely,” Nsiah said.
You can read more Frequently Asked Questions answered by the IRS here.