You’re Not Alone If You Threw Your Stimulus Money Away

The news that the U.S. government was giving every American individual and family with specific incomes a stimulus payment during this pandemic was received with a great sense of relief. However, there are millions of people who have not yet received their stimulus payment. And, there are many people who literally threw their payment in the garbage. Shocking but true.

The problem is that people who did not have their bank deposit information on file with the IRS were expecting to receive a check in the mail from the IRS. However, the IRS switched from sending checks to sending prepaid debit cards. But, whoops, they sent them out before informing everyone about that switch.

People were anxiously awaiting their check in the mail. They were not looking for a pre-paid debit card in a plain white envelope. Many of those who received the card issued by MetaBank thought it was an offer for a junk credit card and simply tossed it in the trash. Now, they have to go through the trouble of letting the IRS know they tossed the cards and wait for a new one to be issued.

People Throw Money Away All The Time

If you are among those who accidently threw your stimulus money away, don’t feel too bad. We humans throw money away all the time. And, in many cases, we put money in “special places” then forget where we put it.

For instance when researching to write this article, I came across an interesting piece in which the author was tasked with trying to find out how much money people lose or throw away in a given year. However, the author, Patrick J. Kiger admits, “there really isn’t any good data on how much money people lose.” However, he was able to dig up some really good examples. One example he found is that, in 2014, three young roommates living in New Paltz, New York, spent $20 to buy an old couch at the local Salvation Army thrift store. When they got home, to their shock, they discovered more than $40,000, much of it in $100 bills, hidden inside the pillows.  [source: Chappell].

Another example: In 2013, a woman forgot that she’d stashed $98,000 in cash in a desk, and mistakenly sold it on Craigslist. Fortunately, she sold it to a rabbi, who found the money and returned every cent of it to her [source: Shaw].

And less fortunately, in 2009, an Israeli woman replaced her mother’s mattress, not knowing that $1 million was stashed inside. She searched three landfills but did not find that old mattress.

 [source: Associated Press].

Throwing Money Away Really Hurts During An Economic Crisis

Generally speaking, at any other time prior to the pandemic and the subsequent social unrest, the examples cited above might have generated a laugh or at least a nod of recognition. In the midst of these uncertain times, however, I acknowledge that the attempt to generate the “misery loves company” attitude may not be consoling. Please know that providing a bit of consolation was the motivation.

These are difficult times for everyone. My hope is that those of you who threw their economic stimulus payment away get a new card issued as quickly as possible. And I hope that this turmoil eventually leads to peace, equality and justice for all.

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