The third round of stimulus checks, this time from the American Rescue Plan, have been distributed over the course of the last month or so, and many are faced with the decision of what to do with the money once it hits their bank account.
A new study from Bankrate has found that more Americans are spending their stimulus checks on bills rather than other things, which is in line with what previous surveys asking similar questions have said. In addition, most surveyed don’t expect that money to last especially long.
According to Bankrate, two-thirds of those asked say that the stimulus “is important to their near-term financial situation.”
When they were asked what they plan to use their stimulus check on, 45 percent said monthly bills, 36 percent answered “day to day essentials,” 32 percent said they would “pay down debt,” and 28 percent said “savings.” Respondents to the survey were allowed to give more than one answer, which is why the numbers equal more than 100 percent.
Just 13 percent of those asked about their stimulus check plans said they intended to use their stimulus checks to “cover discretionary purchases,” although that is more than was the case in previous iterations of the survey.
When asked how long they expect their stimulus check to “sustain [their] financial well-being,” 21 percent of study participants answered “less than one month,” 26 percent said “one month to less than three months,” and 7 percent “three to less than five months.” Another 9 percent said “at least five months,” while 14 percent said, “not at all.”
There was something of a generational divide in those answers, as Generation Xers (39 percent) and younger baby boomers (37 percent) were more likely to answer that the money would not sustain them for one month, Bankrate said.
And in the third question, two-thirds of those asked said they considered the stimulus checks “somewhat important” or “very important” to their financial well-being.
“Stimulus continues to be a bit of a misnomer, with households predominantly using the money to pay monthly bills and provide day-to-day essentials,” Greg McBride, a chief financial analyst for Bankrate, said in the press release. “Even households with those bases covered are opting to pay down debt and boost savings—prudent decisions that lead to more sustained spending in the future.”
Of course, it’s not a guarantee that everyone answering the survey is telling the truth about what they did or plan to do with their stimulus funds.
“For all the talk of revenge spending and pent-up demand for travel, you wouldn’t know it by seeing just 13 percent of stimulus check recipients indicating that any of the money would be spent on discretionary activities or non-essential items,” McBride added in the release of the survey.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for the National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.