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Congress passes the stimulus bill: Here's how the headlines could affect your money

Major indexes climbed Thursday morning, and the U.S. marked its one-year anniversary of Covid.

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Markets mostly rose as Congress approved the American Rescue Plan, sending it to President Joe Biden to sign. Jobless claims were better than expected. Plus, a smart plan for your tax refund or stimulus check. Here's how the headlines could affect your money.

Markets mostly continue their climb

The Dow and S&P 500 hit new records (again!) Wednesday after Congress passed the $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill. Biden, who is expected to sign the bill Thursday afternoon, says stimulus checks of up to $1,400 will start going out in March.

The Dow jumped 1.5% Wednesday, while the S&P rose 0.6%. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq closed the session down slightly, less than 0.1%. The major indexes continued to climb Thursday morning, and the country marked the one-year anniversary of the pandemic.

Jobless claims rise less than expected

First-time claims for unemployment insurance totaled 712,000 for the week ending March 6. That's better than analysts expected, and an improvement from the prior week. Even so, claims remain above pre-Covid levels.

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A smart plan for your tax refund or stimulus money

Americans could soon receive two windfalls: tax refunds and $1,400-per-person stimulus checks. The amount you receive depends on your individual circumstances, but it makes sense to dedicate a portion to some important goals.

Experts suggest first paying outstanding bills and building an emergency fund. Then aim to set aside a chunk for retirement before addressing any lingering debt like personal or student loans.

Words you've heard: Child Tax Credit

As part of the new relief bill, eligible families could start getting monthly cash payments as soon as July. That's because the plan includes big changes to the Child Tax Credit: It increases the maximum amount eligible parents can receive for having a qualifying child dependent to $3,000 per child ages 6 to 17 per year, or $250 per month. For children under the age of 6, the maximum credit equals $3,600 annually, or $300 per month.

The aid package allows for up to half of that credit to be paid out in advance, with the remainder claimable when you file your taxes next spring.

Although the daily news can have an impact on your wallet, remember to take a long-term outlook when it comes to decisions on spending, saving, and investing.

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