We don't need our stimulus check to pay bills, so we're using a needs/wants/savings formula to split it 3 ways

Michael Heffernan/Getty ImagesThe author is not pictured.
  • My family received a stimulus check of $US3,400. Since my husband and I are both still working, we don’t need the money to pay our bills.
  • We’ve decided to split it in three ways using the 50/30/20 budgeting method – or needs/wants/savings.
  • We’re spending 50% on a new laptop for me – I need this to do my job. We’re putting 30% towards an above-ground pool so our kids have something to do this summer. And we’re putting 20% in savings to protect us should anything happen to our income.
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My husband and I received a stimulus check in the amount of $US3,400, and we decided to spend most of it.

Since we both have six months of emergency savings and no debt outside of our mortgage, we decided to break down our check using the 50/30/20 method: 50% will go towards needs, 30% will go towards wants, and the remaining 20% will be earmarked for savings.

Spending 50% on a new laptop

Half of our stimulus check, or $US1,700, will go towards an item we need. Since we are still able to pay our bills with our regular paychecks, we defined a need as something that impacts our quality of life. With that in mind, we decided to replace a laptop that recently died.

We’ve decided to spend such a large amount on a laptop because we see it as an investment. I teach, and because of the pandemic, my classes have all moved online. On an average day, I spend upwards of 10 hours on the computer. I’m also facing the possibility of teaching online during the fall, so we see this as a necessity for my career.

Spending 30% on an above-ground pool

Thirty per cent, or approximately $US1,000, will be going towards providing my kids with some entertainment this summer. With the summer months stretching out ahead of us, and no plans for summer camp, we’re planning to buy an above-ground pool for our backyard.

We do live in sunny South Florida, and while beaches will likely open at some point this summer, community pools will likely be off limits. Having our own backyard entertainment is a safer alternative that requires no social distancing.

We’re comfortable spending $US1,000 on what is clearly more of a “want” than a need because it’s something that can keep my kids active, and therefore,it will benefit all of us.

In addition, we won’t be spending any money on family travel or day camps, which made the decision to spend money on a pool an easy one. With any money left over, we’ll focus on updating our outdoor space with inexpensive lawn furniture. Like most Americans, we’ve found ourselves spending all of our free time at home, using our backyards and living rooms as primary entertaining spaces.

Putting 20% in our savings account

Finally, our last 20%, or approximately $US700 of our check, will go into our joint savings account. My husband and I each have our own personal checking and savings accounts, and we have a joint checking and savings account for bills and household emergencies. We’ll use the remainder of the stimulus check to continue to build our savings nest egg that we can dip into in case of emergency.

With the start of hurricane season on June 1, we are aware of the cost of stocking up on supplies and possible evacuation. If hurricane season is especially devastating this year, it’s important for us to be able to pay the deductible for our homeowners’ insurance and cover any other damages without wiping out our savings.

While we are generally more aggressive with savings with our regular paychecks, the 50/30/20 method made sense for us when figuring out what to do with our stimulus check.

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