Skip to Content

Experts weigh in on how to best use your stimulus funds

Remaining Ad Time Ad - 00:00

MADISON (WKOW) -- As stimulus checks trickle in, Wisconsinites must weigh where that money will do the most good.

Those fortunate enough to choose must decide whether to spend it, save it, donate it or some combination of the three.

With the pandemic taking a toll on the business community, Zach Brandon with the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, hopes that money will stay local.

"The intent of this money is to stimulate the economy," he said. "The more focused you are on how you spend it, the greater impact you can have."

Brandon said the money can make the greatest impact when spent at locally-owned businesses with local employees that make their products or provide their services locally.

That includes businesses forced to close due to the pandemic. Brandon suggests supporting those businesses by buying gift cards or paying for services in advance.

"There's a small risk in investing in a business that may not be around but without investment they're certainly not going to be around," he said.

According to UW Economics professor Ian Coxhead, increased spending will benefit the economy in the short term, but those who don't already have a financial safety net, should consider saving a priority.

"Precautionary savings would be very smart," he said.

Coxhead said that's particularly important for anyone whose employer is likely to see a negative financial impact from this virus in coming months.

"There's a good chance of furloughs or cutting in hours or other cutbacks that will affect incomes in the future," he said.

Those hit hardest by this economic downturn may need these funds to simply make ends meet.

Charitable organizations like food pantries, the United Way or domestic violence services have been working to meet the increased demand while tackling a drop in donations.

Michael Collins, the faculty director of UW's Center for Financial Security said it's a pattern that comes with any likely recession.

"People are holding back because they're afraid of paying their own bills," he said.

He said nonprofits may be hopeful financial relief from the stimulus trickles down to their organizations.

The Better Business Bureau recommends donating to these groups directly to ensure the money goes where it's most needed. Meanwhile, Collins said weighing where and if to donate comes down to personal values.

"What you think is most important and what parts of the community are most important to you?" he said.

In the end, he said that personal choice needs to factor in not only where the economy stands now, but also where each individual may be in three months.

"We have to make sure that we take care of ourselves," he said. "Make sure we're secure so that we can then go on to help the people around us."

Author Profile Photo

Michelle Alfini

Reporter, WKOW

Skip to content