Just like flight attendants used to remind us over and over again back when we used to travel, it’s best to take care of yourself before trying to take care of others. Most of the time, the same principle holds true financially: in order to help someone else in a financial emergency, it’s best to make sure you’re in good enough shape to handle your own emergency first. But for those of us in the Ozarks, and especially those of us in the credit union movement, the principle of helping others comes naturally and can be pretty tough to suppress. If you’re thinking about using your Economic Impact Payment to do some good, think through these things first.

For a lot of us, the Economic Impact Payments came at just the right time to help us pay bills or get through a month after losing some or all of our income. Or, maybe you took a look at your fledgling emergency fund and decided that with all of the economic uncertainty right now, putting your check in a savings account made the most sense since we don’t know what the next several months might bring. However, if you find yourself in a place where you feel pretty confident financially and your emergency fund is stocked with six months of essential living expenses and you continue to build up your savings month to month, it’s less of a risk to give part or all of your Economic Impact Payment away.

If you are feeling like you are in a spot where you can do some good with your payment, consider finding ways to support local businesses. From grocers to hardware stores, there are plenty of businesses owned by our neighbors that could use our help right now. So whether it’s treating yourself to some take-out or curbside pick-up from a local shop, find creative ways to support local spots.

At the same time, there are plenty of people already out of jobs that are going to need some help for the foreseeable future. It’s a great time to support places like Ozarks Food Harvest with our resources and time as they support local non-profits with items desperately needed as unemployment rates continue to go up. There are so many organizations in Springfield and our surrounding counties worthy of your support that would take your Economic Impact Payment and use it to help the most vulnerable. Whether it’s turning your check into meals for the hungry or helping people with utility bills, find an organization that’s doing good stuff and make a lasting impact with your payment.

In a time of social isolation, it can be tough to find ways to be generous. If you have the ability, don’t forget your favorite non-profits as a great way to “pay it forward” with your economic impact payment.