A mother holds a baby while her daughter participates in remote learning with laptop

Prioritizing the basics: Americans’ plans for their stimulus checks

Apr 1, 2021
Empower Insights

Americans plan to use their 2021 stimulus checks to pay down debt and sock away savings, according to a March poll conducted by Empower Retirement in conjunction with The Harris Poll.1 These results align with earlier Empower research indicating that Americans are increasingly prioritizing securing their financial futures.

Graphic. Americans plan on using the forthcoming stimulus money to pay down debt and sock it away in savings

There are some differences in how respondents spent their stimulus checks in 2020 compared to how they plan to spend the 2021 round of checks. As of March 18, 2021, 27% of respondents had already received their 2021 stimulus check.

Graphic showing how respondents say they will spend their 2021 stimulus money

These results represent a slight change from Americans’ priorities for the first two rounds of stimulus payments in 2020. Last year, the survey found:

Graphic showing how respondents say they spent their 2020 stimulus money

Respondents did report differences in stimulus check spending by income with those in lower income brackets spending the money on basic needs and those in higher income brackets were more likely to put it in to a savings account. Millennials were especially likely to start or add to their emergency fund, use it to help make a large purchase, pay for a trip, and pay for childcare when compared to other generations.

If you’re looking for ideas about what to do with your stimulus check, this article includes four suggestions, all of which can help put you on sound financial footing.

1 Empower Retirement in conjunction with The Harris Poll, Retirement Savings & Stimulus Spending, March 2021, n=2045.

Latest Empower Insights

Carefully consider the investment option’s objectives, risks, fees and expenses. Contact Empower Retirement for a prospectus, summary prospectus for SEC-registered products or disclosure document for unregistered products, if available, containing this information. Read each carefully before investing.

Securities offered and/or distributed by GWFS Equities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. GWFS is an affiliate of Empower Retirement, LLC; Great-West Funds, Inc.; and registered investment advisers, Advised Assets Group, LLC and Personal Capital. This material is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide investment, legal or tax recommendations or advice. 

IMPORTANT: The projections, or other information generated on the website by the investment analysis tool regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes, are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results and are not guarantees of future results. The results may vary with each use and over time.

Insurance products are issued by or offered through Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company, Corporate Headquarters: Greenwood Village, CO; or in New York, by Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company of New York, Home Office: New York, NY. Guarantees are subject to the terms and conditions of the contract and the claims-paying ability of the insurer.

The Empower Institute is a research group within Empower Retirement, LLC.

All features may not currently be available and are subject to change without notice. ©2021 Empower Retirement, LLC. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise noted: Not a Deposit | Not FDIC Insured | Not Bank Guaranteed | Funds May Lose Value | Not Insured by Any Federal Government Agency.