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Americans Agonize Over $1,200 Relief Payments That Won’t Be Enough

  • More than 80 million payments begin landing in bank accounts
  • A critical feature of crisis: ‘It hits people very unevenly’
San Francisco's Shelter-in-Place Order Shows U.S. What's to Come
Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Melanie Hayes and tens of millions of other Americans are asking the same question as stimulus checks begin to arrive: How do I prioritize spending a one-time relief payment that won’t be enough?

Hayes and her family will receive $3,400 -- $1,200 apiece for herself and husband, Matt, and $500 for each of their two children. The plan was to use it to cover two months of mortgage payments on their house in Chesapeake, Virginia, where they own the Cutting Edge Cafe.