Priority shifts in Washington mean a fourth stimulus check will not be headed to your mailbox.
While the Biden Administration's far from finished with efforts to stimulate the economy in the wake of COVID-19, emphasis is now being placed on a massive infrastructure plan, along with a separate, larger budget bill that's slated to include money for child care, education, health care and climate-change initiatives.
It’s now been 4 1/2 months since the third checks started going out, and unless you’re set to receive a “bonus payment” from the IRS, you shouldn't count on further government cash anytime soon.
The good news is that, with a little creativity, you can essentially generate your own stimulus: Here are seven easy ways to do it.
1. Lighten your load from student loan debt
Payments on federal student loans have been paused until October.
While prominent Senate Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, are pushing the president to forgive up to $50,000 of federal student loan debt per borrower, Biden's expressed doubt about his authority to cancel those debts.
And, if you’ve got debt from a private student loan, you’re still on the hook for your monthly minimum payment, but you could save thousands on interest fees and shave years off your debt by refinancing to a lower rate or shorter term.
Student loan refi rates have fallen to all-time lows since March of 2020, but you'll need to compare loan offers from multiple lenders to get the best rate possible.
2. Reunite with your long-lost money
You might have some money just sitting out there, maybe in an old account that you've totally forgotten about.
It happens to one in 10 Americans, according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, which says the states return $3 billion in unclaimed property to its rightful owners every year.
You can search what's in state databases of unclaimed funds by going to MissingMoney.com. There, you can see if you left any money in an old checking or savings account, or if you’re entitled to life insurance proceeds from relatives who’ve passed away.
And, check with the IRS on whether you missed any tax refunds. The agency put out a last call for $1.3 billion in unclaimed refunds from 2017 and noted the median amount is $865. While you've missed the May 17 deadline to file for these refunds, if you had the presence of mind to file for an extension on your 2017 return, you have until October 15, 2021 to cash in.
3. Profit off your everyday purchases
If COVID-19 has put you in the habit of doing most of your shopping online, Amazon and Walmart.com may have become your go-tos. But they don't always have the best prices, and nobody has time to price-check every store.
So, just download a free price-checking browser extension that will automatically scour for deals and coupon codes every time you shop online.
Meanwhile, a popular app helps you invest "spare change" from your everyday purchases, to build savings quickly. With the stock market posting a record-breaking run, there’s never been a better time than the past year to start building an investment portfolio.
4. Cut down the cost of your debt
If you’ve been relying on your credit card to carry you through the pandemic, you know your plastic can easily rack up tons of expensive interest.
The Federal Reserve says the average credit card interest rate clocks in at 14.75%, and once you factor in compound interest, paying down your debt can feel like you’re running a marathon where someone keeps adding miles.
Give yourself a breather — and shake off your debt sooner — by rolling your balances into a single lower interest debt consolidation loan.
5. Lower your car insurance premiums
Your car insurance probably comes due every six months, and it's very easy to just blindly pay your premium without going over the numbers. But that’s exactly how you wind up paying more than you should.
Drivers can save an average $1,127 a year by shopping around regularly for the lowest auto insurance rates, a study by CarInsurance.com found.
Each time your policy comes up for renewal, use a website that makes it easy to compare policies and find the best price.
Don’t forget to look for advertised discounts — like if your car is loaded with safety features. The insurance company might knock a percentage off your bill for your air bags, anti-lock brakes or even daytime running lights.
Or, you might cut your premiums by agreeing to higher deductibles, which means you cover more of your own losses before the insurance kicks in.
6. Refinance your mortgage (if you've got one)
Homeowners who haven't refinanced their loans in the last year now have an opportunity to take advantage of some game-changing savings.
With the rate on 30-year fixed mortgages under 3% again, mortgage data and technology provider Black Knight recently said 14.1 million homeowners still have an opportunity to save an average $287 a month with a refi.
You're considered a good refi candidate if you have at least 20% equity in your home, are current on your mortgage payments and have a credit score of 720 or higher. You also should be able to shave at least three-quarters of a point (0.75) off your mortgage rate by swapping out your loan.
Refinancing is the right move if you plan to stay in your home long enough to break even on your closing costs, which can run from 2% to 5% of your loan amount. And you might easily create the equivalent of a new stimulus payment for yourself just by refinancing at a better rate.
7. Score savings on your home insurance
As with your car insurance, you can easily fall into the trap of paying too much for your homeowners insurance if you don't comparison-shop. Prices can be all over the place.
As an example, LendingTree's ValuePenguin site found annual home insurance rates in Florida can vary by more than $1,500 for coverage that's practically the same.
You might be missing out on discounts, too. A popular one is for "bundling," if you buy your home and auto insurance from the same company.
To see the best deals available in your area, use a website that will help you review quotes from lots of insurers.
With rates on insurance going up every year — ValuePenguin found homeowners insurance premiums have risen 59% over the last decade — it’s just a best practice to shop around regularly.