How to Use Upcoming Stimulus Package

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United Way of Central Maryland (the nonprofit organization serving Baltimore City and the surrounding counties for 95 years by promoting equity, creating opportunity, and improving lives by increasing access to health, housing, employment, and education) continues to be committed to supporting families in the region during the COVID-19 crisis.

Part of the organization’s work is centered on working with families to create financially stable households. While families struggled with this before the pandemic, there are more who will encounter this challenge as it continues to impact the economy and their livelihoods.

The federal government’s upcoming stimulus package will help temporarily – but what is the best use of this addition to an already strained household budget?

Following are a few tips from United Way’s caseworkers:

  1. This is not the time to indulge! After being stuck at home for an extended period, receiving a big check may feel like the time for a tiny splurge. Don’t fall into that trap.
  2. If your income has been diminished, immediately file for any services you may now be eligible to receive. These include unemployment, TCA, food stamps, and medical assistance. There are many companies, including banks and lenders, who are willing to work with customers at this point in time, delaying mortgage payments and more. Call your banks and lenders before sending any payments to see where you can delay payments.
  3. If you are still working, continue to pay your bills. Do not slow down because of the crisis.
  4. When the dust settles, have a plan in place so the bills don’t pile up. If you receive any funds from the stimulus package, your tax return, or other sources, pay all bills you can immediately.
  5. It is a misconception that bills will be forgiven during this time. You will still need to pay your balance once restrictions are lifted. Don’t get behind if you can manage. Even small payments now will help to keep things manageable later.

The 211 Maryland United Way Helpline is a resource 24/7, 365 days a year, and will remain a resource well after the immediate needs this pandemic has created are met. The 211 staff is available to assist callers with questions about public benefits and connect those in need of food, health care services, childcare, transportation, utility assistance, and eviction prevention. Callers also can receive information on mental health counseling, job training, and substance use recovery.

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