You got a stimulus check, but how far does $1400 go?

You got a stimulus check, but how far does $1400 go?

Did you get your stimulus check yet? Some people are reporting that the money has already been deposited into their bank accounts. That is great, but really, how far does $1400 go? For those who have had no or very little income for a year, $1400 does not go very far at all. Let’s take a look at some of the things people can buy with $1400 bucks.

RENT

For many people, rent is their largest monthly expenditure. Unfortunately, rents are high. Really high. Let’s say you live in Queens, NY. For a 715 sq ft apartment, the average monthly rent is $2,411. That means that the stimulus will not even cover a single months rent!

The rent is too damn high - Album on Imgur
Yes, we know!

There are cheaper places to live than New York. Let’s take Houston, TX, for example. In that city, the average apartment is 880 sq ft and goes for a mere $1,110. That is better, but the $1400 stimulus will only get a single months rent.

We need to find someplace cheaper if we are going to be able to afford food, so lets try Las Vegas. We heard there is work there in the hospitality industry so this might be a win win situation. Turns out that the average rent for an 891 sq foot apartment in Las Vegas goes for about $1,152 per month. Things will remain tight as the minimum wage in Nevada is just $8.75 per hour.

There must be someplace cheaper out there. What about Alabama? Alabama sounds like rent might be reasonable, and it is–comparatively. In Mobile, AL, you can rent a 935 sq ft apartment for an average of $899 per month. Whew. It looks like we will be able to eat this month!

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Fewer than 1% of Americans earn over 400K per year

FOOD

People need to eat. This sad reality of life has plagued the world since humans were seeded on Earth by aliens–or however we came to be. Unfortunately, food doesn’t grow on trees. Well, it literally does grow in trees, but someone other than you or me owns all the trees. Congratulations if you are a subsistence farmer because you were built to withstand the apocalypse. The rest of us have to buy food.

It's aliens Memes

While the low global price of oil has some industry sectors grumbling, the drop in price has helped to keep inflation and therefore food prices down. When the cost of fuel is high, it costs more to grow, manufacture, and distribute food to the market. That means that lower fuel costs make it cheaper to get food to the grocery store shelves and into your hands. Despite low inflation and low fuel costs, the price of food has increased by 20 to 30 percent over the last decade.

Meat products are an outlier. Beef and fish products have increased by over 40% in the last decade!

Meanwhile, the U.S. federal minimum wage has not increased since 2009. That means that wages have not kept up with the cost of living. Still, we all must eat. So what can you buy with the $1400 stimulus?

Click here to see average U.S. prices for groceries

At the bare minimum, it costs $11 bucks a day to eat the daily recommended 2400 calories needed by humans. Well, technically, you could do it for less, but you might starve to death or become malnourished. A mere $341 bucks per month might be possible to live on, but it takes a lot of organization and planning to make the food budget stretch. If you can manage it, the $1400 will last you 127 days. Just 42 days if you have a couple of kids.

Alternately, you could buy 350 Big Macs. That should get you through the month, but you might die of a heart attack. Of the 520 total calories in a Big Mac, 48% of them are from fat. If you ONLY eat Big Macs, you will likely get scurvy or rickets or something. So, be sure to ask for extra lettuce.

McDonald's is selling $1 Big Macs... for today only!
MMMM delicious, but not sufficiently nutritious to keep you alive over the long term.

TRANSPORTATION

Need a way to get to your minimum wage job? If you live in NYC then you might be in luck. The 30 day unlimited MetroCard will set you back just $127 per month. That means the $1400 stimulus will allow you to ride free for almost a year. This will be useful if you find yourself homeless and need a place to sleep.

Person sleeps on the New York subway.
Overnight on the 1 train.

If you require a vehicle to get to work, you are in luck because gas prices are low (ish). For some bizarre reason, historically low oil prices have not translated to historically low gas prices. Prices are lower than they were in 2012, but not really by much. In 2012, the average price of gas was $3.62 per gallon. In 2021, the average price of gas is $3.12 per gallon. Fortunately, however, you just got a stimulus payment so you can now afford to buy about 400 gallons of gas.

Use this handy gas cost calculator to see how much it will cost to get to work everyday

So, how far does $1400 go?

Not very far. $1400 is not enough to alleviate the financial pain of anyone who has lost their job during these difficult times. It is also a lot less than what other nations have distributed to their citizens. Still, $1400 is better than no $1400, so at least there is that.

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