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Financial experts advise on budgeting, what to do with stimulus money

Published: Jan. 18, 2021 at 5:51 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - If you’re still waiting on your stimulus money, the IRS said your check should be in the mail.

Once you get that $600 payment, what should you do with it? Eyewitness News reached out to local financial experts for advice on getting the biggest benefit from the federal assistance.

When it comes to budgeting for the year, the first thing experts recommend is to prepare now.

For Kansans like Maria Kury and her husband, creating a budget is fairly new. A couple of months ago, she asked for help from financial coach Yezmin Thomas.

“The best advice she gave us was (to) go back to the basics and start using cash instead of the debit card for everything,” Kury said.

Kury already received her $600 stimulus payment and she started with putting money into a savings account. Now the family is trying to figure out where the money will go next.

“According to our plan that we made with (Thomas), the main thing is to pay our debt first, and then we can start saving for different things, maybe for a college fund for our id or for vacation time,” she said.

To create a budget, Thomas advises people to write down what they make and where they spend their money.

“Set aside all shame. Set aside all expectations that others have of you, and just sit down, write down your expenses,” she said. “Be true to yourself. Be honest with yourself, and make it (a) priority, starting today, of living on a budget.”

If you’re getting a $600 stimulus check, experts offer advice on how you should think about the money.

“Whether it be the stimulus, or your tax return, or maybe a bonus from work, it’s really important to plan for how you’re going to spend the money before you actually receive the money,” said Chris Wolgamott, Meritrust Credit Union Director of Financial Education.

Thomas said depending on your situation, you should try to preserve that money and cut back on expenses. She also advises people to look at your income and how it is distributed.

“Really analyze where your money is going and only focus on those necessities,” she said. “So, eating is a necessity, eating out is a privilege.”

Thomas and Wolgamott recommend setting aside money for a rainy-day fund, in case of emergency.

One recommendation is to have at least $1,000 set aside for emergencies.

Thomas recommends setting aside at least six months’ worth of your monthly expenses. She said the key is to cut back on things that are not necessities.

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