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How stimulus checks changed the financial futures of these recipients

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When the first round of stimulus checks arrived in millions of bank accounts across the country, most flowed straight back into the economy. According to Forbes, this was because 75% of households nationwide were in such dire financial straits that they had to spend the money as soon as they received it for immediate necessities.

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By the time of the second round of payments, about half were able to use the windfall to pay off the debt. When the third round arrived in 2021, about one in three recipients was stable enough to save most of what would be their final payment.

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But what has the greatest transfer of wealth in history from government to people really meant for ordinary people? GOBankingRates spoke to ordinary people who have done extraordinary things with their piece of the pie. Here are their stories in their own words.

A struggling educator survives and changes careers

Amanda Mae Renkel, owner of Mae’s Miles and Music, was living paycheck to paycheck until April 2020, teaching English as a second language online to children in China. She enjoyed the flexibility, but often had to wake up before 5 a.m., which became exhausting.

Payments changed all that.

“Each stimulus check seemed to be more valuable than the last,” Renkel said. “The final payment in March 2021 solidified my financial security. For the first time in my life, I had a small savings account and didn’t worry about what was going to happen the next month.

In August 2021, she learned that her job was ending as the Chinese government imposed strict regulations on teachers based in the United States. Thanks to the stimulus payments, Renkel was able to pivot and recover.

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“Thanks to another teacher, I learned proper SEO techniques for blogging,” she said. “I hired her as a blogging coach, which wouldn’t have been possible without the stimulus checks. I started my blog in 2017 but never figured out how to gain views. Now I watch my blog grow weekly and monthly. Since my blog is all about running, I got a running coach certification in early 2022. Suddenly this side hustle is starting to feel more like the next chapter in my life. The stimulus checks didn’t make me a millionaire, but for someone living within my means, they really changed the course of my life.

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A cash-strapped student traveled the world and found her calling

Kristin Lee is a travel expert and the founder of Global Travel Getaways, but if it hadn’t been for the stimulus checks that have come her way during the pandemic, she would almost certainly have a different job title.

“Before the pandemic hit, I was a full-time student, working three part-time jobs at my university to help pay for expenses,” Lee said. “When the pandemic hit and I started getting stimulus checks, my monthly income more than doubled. It was huge because simultaneously my monthly expenses went down significantly with distance learning and not being so socially active. With the extra money, I was able to save and invest most of it.

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By the time she graduated in June 2021, she was much more financially secure and realized her emergency fund could last her for about a year.

“As a result, I traveled the world for a few months, visiting 14 countries and over 20 cities. The experience was so eye-opening that I decided to fully commit myself to travel blogging and work on various side activities. If I hadn’t gotten the stimulus checks, I’m pretty sure I would have just gotten a job as a lab researcher right out of college. Life would be almost routine. Instead, I’m developing my side activities that I’m passionate about, I’m always planning the next big adventure and I never know what the next day will bring.

For a family, the checks delivered a home – and a future

Dennis Shirshikov is a strategist at, a real estate company for investors. Unlike so many people who had to spend their stimulus checks on immediate expenses, Shirshikov had the luxury of using his payments to build a future.

“The stimulus checks allowed my wife and I to put a down payment on our house,” Shirshikov said. “We were very lucky and found a bed and breakfast that was for sale. For now it is a single family home, but we plan to operate the bed and breakfast as a form of early retirement in the future. In a way, those stimulus checks gave us the money for a down payment, got us out of renting, and took care of our retirement.

Real estate pro converted stimuli into digital assets

Cassie Alongi, real estate broker and co-founder of We Buy Any House In California, never doubted what she would do with her share of the federal pandemic stimulus.

“When it was announced that taxpayers would receive the relief funds, I didn’t change my mind about what I was going to do with the money – invest in crypto, buy the cheap coins and see what it would look like after the pandemic. I believe I made the right choice even though the parts in quotes are not going well at the moment. But everything is fine. My eyes are set on the long-term reward. That’s what I like to do with free money. I convert it to assets.

A car – and a source of income – for the next generation

While many people have used their checks to build the foundations for their future, others have given them to their children.

“I was lucky to keep my job and I wasn’t just trying to survive,” said Khamis Maiouf, CEO of Book of Barbering. “The stimulus checks have been a bonus for me. However, I was working from home, which reduced my expenses. We all knew that during the pandemic we weren’t allowed to do any sightseeing or eat out in hotels. So I saved my stimulus check money and used it to buy a car for my son. He now drives it for Uber as a side business and earns money.

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About the Author

Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. An award-winning writer, Andrew was previously one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the nation’s largest newspaper syndicate, the Gannett News Service. He worked as a business editor for amNewYork, the most widely distributed newspaper in Manhattan, and worked as an editor for, a financial publication at the heart of New York’s Wall Street investment community. .

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