Many Americans are set to receive money from the government in the form of a stimulus benefit. Dr. Laura Hendrix, Accredited Financial Counselor® and Associate Professor, Personal Finance and Consumer Economics with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service recommends planning now to use your stimulus check wisely by paying bills, paying down debt, and saving for emergencies.

Build savings by starting or contributing to an emergency savings fund. It is more important now than ever. Most personal finance experts recommend an emergency fund with enough to cover at least 2 months and up to 6 months of expenses. An emergency savings fund is your best protection in times of economic uncertainty.

Pay bills to stay current on payments and avoid defaulting. Missing payments can lead to foreclosure or repossession. Late and missing payments lower your credit score, making future credit more expensive and more difficult to obtain.

Pay down debt on credit cards. Paying off credit card debt can free more money in your future budget and save money on interest.

The amount of the stimulus benefit will vary depending on your income and family size. Adults with annual income up to $75,000 will receive $1,200, plus another $500 per child. Benefits will be distributed by check or direct deposit. This online calculator will tell you what your COVID-19 stimulus benefit will be: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/business/coronavirus-stimulus-checkcalculator/

Also, be aware of scammers who impersonate government officials by phone, email or social media demanding personal and banking information to verify eligibility for the government’s stimulus check. To keep your stimulus and other financial information safe, only rely on official government websites (.gov) for economic relief information and never give out your personal information over the telephone or by email.

The Cooperative Extension Service is your source for reliable information. We connect trusted research to the adoption of best practices and serve as a promoter of prosperity for Arkansans. For more information, visit our webpage at www.uaex.edu/money. Follow uaexMoney on facebook for regular updates on financial issues and concerns.

Logan County Extension Agents are working by telecommuting to follow social distancing best practices during the COVID-19 crisis. You may call our office at 479-963-2360 or email logan-paris@uaex.edu to contact agents. For the latest information on Family and Consumer Sciences, Agriculture, 4-H Youth and COVID-19 topics follow LoganCountyExtension on Facebook or visit our website uaex.edu/logan.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.