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How you can use local resources to maximize your stimulus check

American Financial Planning gives pointers so you can reach your 2021 financial goals

ROANOKE, Va. – Some say the second stimulus check is more than enough, but that’s not the case for everyone.

American Financial Planning in Roanoke told 10 News 2020 was a very busy year due to the pandemic. People needed them for financial advice and small businesses needed to know what resources they had and how to navigate COVID-19 relief loans.

Maynard Keller, American Financial Planning president and certified financial planner, said people who didn’t see financial hardship related to the pandemic can maximize their check by saving and putting it in their emergency funds and pay off any debt. Keller also mentioned maximizing that $600 can also mean getting the most out of it for the community.

Keller suggested buying from local businesses, including gift certificates, to help them stay afloat or donating to neighbors and nonprofits who are going through hard times can go a long way.

If you are dealing with hardship and have more bills than money, even with this second stimulus payment, Keller recommends paying what you can and telling creditors on what’s going on.

“If you can’t pay them all on time, call them. ‘I’m having trouble paying everything on time can you take half of the amount?’ Most likely they’ll work with you, the worst thing to do is to do nothing,” said Keller.

Keller also mentioned there are resources in Roanoke. The city has $7 million in CARES Act funding that can help people with their rent and utilities. Keller said to reach out to the city’s Department of Health and Human Services at 540-853-2894. Other localities also have funding available.

Now that it’s 2021, the new year comes with new financial goals.

Last year and the pandemic thus far has taught all of us a lot about finances and saving.

Putting money in your savings for the “unexpected” is no longer hypothetical, it quickly became a reality for many as businesses closed temporarily or permanently and people were laid off. Almost like a stress-test for your finances.

“Hopefully people will learn from this, okay if you didn’t have a savings account well now is the time to establish one. Even setting aside $50 a week, setting aside a little bit of money, creating that savings account will be not just helpful for a pandemic but for anything else that might come through,” said Keller.

Here are Keller’s tips for budgeting and saving in 2021:

  • Prioritize your expenses, urgent needs first
  • Always live below your means, not above regardless of what income level you’re at
    • Write down your income and all your expenses to define “living below your means”
  • Have a savings or emergency fund
  • Share your goal with someone who can keep you accountability
  • Work with a financial planner

About the Author:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.