Coronavirus financial resource center

'Shark Tank' investor Barbara Corcoran: This is 'the most important thing to do with your stimulus check'

Eric McCandless | Walt Disney Television | Getty Images

Self-made millionaire and investor on ABC's "Shark Tank" Barbara Corcoran has advice for anyone who is receiving a coronavirus stimulus check. "The most important thing to do with your stimulus check is to not spend it. It should be saved, because that's exactly what it's intended to do, to put you through a hard time," Corcoran tells Grow. "You should be thinking of it as something to fall back on."

This week, the government started distributing stimulus checks, officially known as economic impact payments, of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child under 16. 

Here are some other smart ways Corcoran suggests you can put your stimulus cash to good use

Pay down high-interest debt

Your first priority should be paying for essentials with your stimulus money. "Of course, if you're a mother of three and you can't put food on your table, you should be spending it on food," Corcoran says. 

If you don't need your stimulus check to make high-priority purchases, she suggests using it to pay bills that could be piling up. "If you have a lot of credit card debt, it's probably a very good use of the check to pay it down. Especially those cards with very high interest rates because they'll eat you alive."

Whatever you do, says Corcoran, don't spend that money frivolously. "It's not a Christmas present that you just go out and you spend on what you feel like doing."

Invest in yourself

Another wise way to make the most of your stimulus cash is to invest in developing new skills, Corcoran says: "Now's the time to take the courses online, develop your skills and make yourself stronger, because what you really want to do here is repackage yourself for a new economy." 

How to spend a stimulus check if you're unemployed

Video by Jason Armesto

Corcoran says she is seeing people use this time to make themselves more desirable job candidates. "I know a photographer who has a very good visual sense, lost all of his photography work, so he educated himself to be a photo editor and he has his resume out there, not as the photographer he was a month ago, but as a photo editor. And he's already getting work."

If you want to use your time at home to learn a new skill, online learning sites like Coursera, edX, and Codecademy are offering free or discounted classes on thousands of subjects including coding, real estate, and graphic design. 

Focus on the solution, not the problem

Corcoran was raised in a family that didn't have a lot of money and, as an adult, built her multi-million dollar real estate company The Corcoran Group in the 1970s during an economic recession. To get through trying times, she says it's important to remain calm and stay focused. 

"The lesson I learned from my mother and father, who raised 10 kids in a two bedroom house and hardly knew how they were going to pay for things, was, if you're worrying about money, it's a total waste of time," Corcoran says. "No matter what's going on. Because in the time that you're worrying, you're not thinking of solutions."

More from Grow: