Stimulus Payments 2022: How Americans Say They Would Spend an Additional Check

Modern married multi-ethnic young couple calculating financial bills at home.
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With inflation making it harder and harder to get by, some states are issuing inflation relief checks to offer their residents some financial relief. And if a recent GOBankingRates survey is any indication, this extra money is sorely needed by many. Here’s a look at how Americans say they would use an additional stimulus payment.

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The Majority of Americans Would Use a Stimulus Check To Pay Bills

GOBankingRates surveyed over 1,000 American adults and asked them what they would primarily use an additional stimulus check for — and more than half (54%) said they would use it to pay off bills.

“Many Americans are feeling the budget punch of inflation as wages are not keeping up with prices of everyday goods and services,” said Andre Jean-Pierre, investment advisor at Aces Advisors. “I believe that using a short-term influx of cash to pay off bills would be wise because having missed payments on your personal credit profile could have long-term effects on an individual’s budget. If short-term influxes of cash were used to eliminate debt and interest payments, it could alleviate pressure on an individual’s monthly budget.”

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Jay Zigmont, Ph.D., CFP, founder of Childfree Wealth, also recommends using any influx of cash to pay off bills.

“The fact that 54% said they would use the money to pay off bills is a good thing,” he said. “The first step when you get extra money is to pay down any debt you have. Paying down debt is effectively a risk-free return on the interest you would have paid. With credit card interest rates on the rise, paying off debt could save you 20% or more.”

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Over One-Quarter of Americans Would Save or Invest a Stimulus Check

The next most popular use for a potential stimulus check would be to invest it or put it into savings, with 28% of Americans stating they would do one of the two (or both). Whether it’s better to save or invest a stimulus check in the current climate is up for debate.

“In this marketplace, investing is not better than saving,” said Josh Answers, host of “The Trading Fraternity.” “This might sound odd to many, given that the answer to this question has been the opposite for the last 10 years, but things have changed with so much volatility and higher rates.”

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Answers recommends looking for accounts that have high interest rates if you do decide to save any cash influx.

“Shop around various high-yield savings accounts or CDs offered by your bank or credit card company,” he said. “If the Fed charges almost 4.5% for money, you should try to charge close to that.”

Despite the high interest rates you may be able to get with some bank accounts, Robert R. Johnson, Ph.D., CFA, professor of finance at the Heider College of Business, Creighton University, still recommends investing over saving.

“If you have a long time horizon, prudent investing is always better than saving,” he said. “Counterintuitively, the biggest mistake many people make in investing is not taking enough risk. The surest way to build true long-term wealth for retirement is to invest in the stock market.”

However, if you have debt, paying bills is still a better use of your money than saving or investing, Zigmont said.

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“If you have debt, when you pay it off, you get what is effectively a guaranteed, risk-free return of the interest you save,” he said. “It may not be sexy, but paying down debt is a way to invest in your future. Once your debt is paid off, you will have more money to save and invest.”

Other Ways Americans Would Use Stimulus Checks

Although paying off bills and saving/investing are the most common ways Americans would use stimulus payments, smaller percentages would put this cash to other uses. According to the GOBankingRates survey:

  • 5% would use a stimulus check for holiday shopping
  • 5% would use a stimulus check to go on vacation
  • 7% would put their check toward some other use

Those ages 35 to 54 were slightly more likely than the general population to use a potential stimulus check for holiday shopping, and women were slightly more likely than men to say they would use a check for holiday shopping.

Americans ages 18 to 24 were the most likely to use a potential stimulus check toward a vacation, with 10% of young Americans stating that this would be their primary use. Men are more likely than women to use a stimulus check for a vacation, with 8% of men stating this would be their primary use versus 4% of women.

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Methodology: GOBankingRates surveyed 1,003 Americans ages 18 and older from across the country between Sept. 19 and Sept. 21, 2022, asking eight different questions: (1) Have you seen a rise in your household utility bills? (electric, gas, water); (2) How much have your household utility bills (electric, water, gas) gone up each month?; (3) Which expense is rising the most for your household?; (4) Which expense is the hardest to plan for each month?; (5) Have you had to adjust your monthly budget due to rising household bills?; (6) How often do you shop at a dollar store (Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Family Dollar, etc.)?; (7) If there were an additional stimulus check, what would you primarily use it for?; and (8) If you received student loan forgiveness, how will you use this extra money each month? GOBankingRates used PureSpectrum’s survey platform to conduct the poll.

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About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 
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