With a fresh round of stimulus checks seeming imminent, you might be planning to put your next relief payment toward some pressing household expenses.
Two-thirds of Americans who received a first-round $1,200 stimulus check, back in April 2020, used the money to pay bills, and 25% used it to pay down debt, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But if you're not being crushed by bills or debt, parking your relief payment in the bank is not a smart move for making the most of your free cash. Traditional bank accounts pay next-to-nothing interest.
If you want your new 2021 stimulus check to grow over time, you could do better investing some (or all) of it in the stock market.
To demonstrate this point, we decided to find out exactly how much someone would have made if they’d invested all $1,200 of their first stim check into some of today’s most buzzed-about stocks.
We compared Alpha Vantage’s historical stock data for April 13, 2020 — the Monday after the first round of relief payments went out — to data for Feb. 8, 2021, the date this article was written.
Here’s what we found, and obviously we don't know how these particular stocks will perform in the future.
What your $1,200 investment would be worth today: $15,189.87
Total increase: 1,165.82%
Total profit: $13,989.87
Thanks to the efforts of armchair investors on Reddit and Twitter, GameStop has now become infamous as the stock that “broke the market” — at least for a week or two.
The American video game retailer had been struggling for years, and when the pandemic hit things began to look increasingly grim for GameStop.
But when a subreddit called WallStreetBets urged small-time traders armed with low- and no-commission trading apps like Robinhood to snatch up shares of GME, the price skyrocketed, and hedge funds that had bet against the stock found themselves caught in a short squeeze.
GameStop stock has been a rollercoaster of ups and downs since the story first broke, and even though it’s nowhere near the heights it reached a few weeks ago, as of Feb. 8 you would have made close to a $14,000 profit if you’d invested your entire first stimulus check in GME. That’s almost enough to buy a PS5 on the black market.
What your $1,200 investment would be worth today: $7,958.40
Total increase: 563.20%
Total profit: $6,758.40
Despite the pandemic, 2020 was a banner year for Tesla. Elon Musk’s pioneering electric vehicle company split its stock in August and had its biggest year ever in terms of production.
Even with the factory shutdowns that plagued the auto industry during the first wave, Tesla managed to deliver close to 500,000 cars in 2020.
On top of that, the company shattered its previous quarterly sales record by more than 40,000 vehicles, selling 180,570 cars in Q4 alone.
If you’d invested your first economic impact payment in Tesla stock, you’d now be up by $6,758 — the equivalent of more than five and a half $1,200 stimulus checks.
What your $1,200 investment would be worth today: $2,423.61
Total increase: 101.97%
Total profit: $1,223.61
Tech giant Apple also had a big year in 2020 — it became the first U.S. company ever to reach a $2 trillion valuation.
What’s even more impressive about that stat is that all of Apple’s second $1 trillion came between March and August, at the height of the pandemic.
Apple also saw a huge surge in stock prices in December, which many analysts chalked up to industry buzz suggesting the company has begun working on an electric vehicle that would give Tesla a run for its money.
Investing your $1,200 stimulus check in Apple stock on April 13, 2020, would have netted you a profit of more than $1,200, effectively doubling the value of your relief payment.
What your $1,200 investment would be worth today: $3,023.38
Total increase: 151.95%
Total profit: $1,823.38
Like many retail chains, Macy’s stock took a nosedive in the wake of the pandemic.
Along with countless other big-name brands, the decline in retail sales caused by COVID forced Macy’s to permanently shutter a number of its physical locations, with more closures on the way in 2021.
However, the company’s decision to streamline its operations and focus on e-commerce and its best-performing stores seems to have paid off — share prices have seen significant growth since the start of the new year.
Using your first relief payment to invest in Macy’s stock back in April would have earned you a profit of $1,823.
How to start investing today
While we can’t guarantee that investing your next stimulus check will result in as much profit as the examples listed above, putting a bit of it into the market could earn you some serious coin.
Don’t worry if you don’t have much (or any) investing experience — these days there are mobile apps that make it easy to start buying and trading stocks in minutes.
Some of them even offer fractional shares, which means you can buy stock in any of the companies mentioned above for $5 or less.
So don’t let your next relief payment fester in your bank account — put it to work on Wall Street.