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Evan Semón

Op-Ed: Spend Your Relief Check!

As more than $2 trillion is injected into the U.S. economy, a lot of the funds will be directed to special programs. However, some will come as relief checks to almost half of all Americans. Those who earn less than $99,000 a year will receive some sort of check, with those earning under $75,000 estimated to receive $1,200.

Many Americans will not have a choice but to spend their $1,200 check. Many have lost their jobs, received pay cuts, or have had to quit due to loss of child care. Those who are short on money will spend these checks to get their heads above water. Hopefully, the brunt of the crisis will pass by quickly and people will get their jobs back.

However, a large portion of Americans will receive these checks “unnecessarily.” Many, including myself, retained their jobs and are just working from home. I will receive a paycheck at the end of this month. While some expenses have risen since the start of this pandemic, overall, many people have not incurred great losses.

Those of us who have been fortunate may have a thought to squirrel away this relief check, pay off some debt or put it into a savings account. I urge everyone to forgo saving the check and spend it instead!

The U.S. government pursued this solution, at least in part, to help stimulate a temporarily sinking economy. Money is being injected into various sectors, and one of those is consumer spending. If you receive this check but you didn’t really “need” it — spend it! Buy take-out from local food-service businesses. Order items from small Ma and Pa shops. Buy gift certificates from local businesses for future use, when social distancing is no longer needed.

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Spending the money you get for something useful is vital not only to help you, it’s also vital to inject that money into the economy. The money you spend will in turn drive production, creation and other economic activities. It will allow the small-business owners to keep their businesses afloat and maybe support their own families. If you really feel generous, donate the check to a local organization supporting your community!

Saving money is often a smart choice in personal finance. However, remember the purpose of these relief checks: to help those disadvantaged and to stimulate the economy. The check isn't toilet paper; you don’t need to hoard it. You need to spend it!

Zigmas Polinauskas is an immigrant from Lithuania who graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2015 and currently is a second-year law student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law; he lives in Denver with his wife and five-month old son. "My wife and I love Denver and we love Colorado," he says. "I think the people here are good, and we can get through this crisis together."

Westword occasionally publishes essays and op-eds on matters of interest to the Denver community. If you have one you'd like to submit, send it to editorial@westword.com.

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