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How to spend your Guaranteed Income


“Let the money put you at ease,” says Brenita Burns, 38, one of 110 low-income black mothers in Jackson, Miss., Who received $ 1,000 a month from Mother’s Trust last year through a guaranteed income project called Magnolia . When Burns joined the program, she hoped to use some of the money to pay off her $ 20,000 student loan. When their first check arrived in March 2020, the country was closed. The first things she bought were groceries and a laptop for her 10 year old son.

“You can do whatever you want with it,” says Burns. It’s your money, and research shows that people tend to know their own needs best. Some of the women used their money to hire tutors for children struggling with virtual learning. others paid off high-yield loans. Burns’ money meant she could take care of her ailing mother and be home to help her son with schoolwork online. It allowed her to buy things she wanted for herself and her son. “It felt good to be able to go into a store with him and say, ‘What do you want?'” Says Burns.

If you are receiving public services, you should know that money with guaranteed income most likely means you will get less support. Burns had to forego grocery stamps worth over $ 200 a month, and her government-subsidized rent soared. All in all, however, she scored more than she lost. Most of the now dozen or so pilot programs with guaranteed income in the country have a fixed duration. “Enjoy it,” says Burns, “but remember, it will end.” If you need public support after your program is complete, it will very likely take some time to restore. Try to save enough to at least cover this delay. Burns received her last check in February and is still waiting to be re-enrolled in the supplement support program.

Burns never told her friends or neighbors about her guaranteed income. “Don’t talk about it,” she says. It didn’t feel fair to mention the free money when everyone wasn’t eligible to apply. A year of the most basic economic security gave Burns time to ponder how she wants to be in the world. She started writing children’s books and wants to get a Masters degree so she can be a counselor. She didn’t save much in the end, but in a year with so many around her drowning in debt and disease, the money helped Burns feed, shelter, and keep her family safe. “I was able to stay afloat,” she says.

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