59% to Use Stimulus Checks to Pay Household Bills, Survey Finds

59% to Use Stimulus Checks to Pay Household Bills, Survey Finds

9 in 10 Americans believe payments will improve their financial health
COVID-19 relief program

As Americans look to the federal government for help getting through the COVID-19 pandemic, a majority plan to use financial assistance they receive for everyday expenses, according to a new survey.

Under new relief legislation enacted in December, Washington is slated to give out $600 economic impact payments, and 90% of respondents believe the checks will improve their financial health. The survey, conducted by bill payment service doxo, also found that 59% of those polled plan to use the money to pay their routine bills.

Utilities a top priority

Specifically, 78% of respondents who plan to use their checks to take care of bills said the money would go towards utility bills. This finding was similar to results from an earlier survey by payments company Branch, which also reported utility bills as the top financial worry.

Those responding to the doxo survey also cited other bills they plan to tackle with the $600 payment:

  • 35% said they would pay cable/Internet bills
  • 33% said rent
  • 32% said their mortgage
  • 32% said mobile phone bills
  • 27% said auto loans
  • 13% said health insurance

While bill payments were top-of-mind for some, others had different problems to tackle. More than 1 in 10 (11%) said they would use the funds to put food on the table. Another 11% planned to beef up their savings, and roughly 10% said they would put the money toward decreasing credit card debt.

Most believe recovery will take time

While recipients plan to put their stimulus checks to good use, a majority believe it will still take time for them to financially recover from the crisis. Some expect long-term consequences from the pandemic — for example, nearly 1 in 3 Americans said the COVID-19 crisis has changed the age at which they will retire.

When asked how long it will take for their personal finances to recover, nearly 7 in 10 respondents (68%) said they think it will take longer than a year. That was followed by…

  • 14% who said 10-12 months
  • 6% who said seven to nine months
  • 2% who said three to six months
  • 2% who said less than three months

At the same time, 7% said they believe they will never recover financially from the pandemic.

Those questioned also differed about how long it would take for the economy to recover as a whole, with 41% predicting it would take more than a year to return to pre-crisis economic health. Another 20% believed the economy would return to normal in 10-12 months, and 11% said seven to nine months.

On the other end of the spectrum, some expected a rather quick economic turnaround:

  • 12% said three to six months
  • 12% said less than three months

However, an additional 5% said they believe the economy won’t recover from the damage done by the pandemic.

Methodology: Doxo surveyed 1,078 households between Dec. 23, 2020 and Jan. 4, 2021. Survey results had a 3% margin of error.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.