It has been a rocky few years. Since 2020, we have dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest, and now we may be looking at a recession. These issues have rocked the lives of many people, especially those with children. To ease the burden, the government sent out stimulus checks to families around the country. If you are still filing your taxes from that time, then you may be trying to remember the first stimulus check and the amount you received per child. 

We are here to help. Today, we will talk about that first check and the details you need to know.

How Much Was That First Stimulus Check Per Child

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The first stimulus check was $500 per child.

After the COVID-19 pandemic became a terrifying reality, President Donald Trump and Congress authorized the sending of stimulus checks to millions of U.S. citizens. Among them were payments for up to $1,200, $600, and $1,400. The idea is that the money would help out families and that they would buy things with that cash to stimulate the economy. 

Not everyone was eligible. Instead, it was based on your income. If you were single, then you had to earn less than $75,000. Families with a single income had to earn less than $112,500. Finally, married couples that filed jointly could only make up to $150,000 total to get the checks. 

An additional perk was that you would be sent a check for each child you had. The first stimulus check was $500 for each dependent child. The checks were sent out automatically based on data previously compiled by the government via tax filings from 2018 and/or 2019. 

It is worth noting that if you never received your check, you may still have a chance to claim what you missed. You may need to speak to a tax professional first. However, you can try by sending in your 2020 tax return and try to get the recovery rebate credit. If you are unsure if you are missing money, then you can fill out a recovery rebate credit worksheet to determine how much you may be entitled to receive.

If you filed electronically, then you can also use your tax software to determine what you are owed. 

Different From the Child Tax Credit

It is worth noting that the first stimulus check of $500 is different then the potential child tax credit that you could receive if you have qualifying dependents. The amount that you get for the child tax credit has varied over the last several years. If you are filing taxes in 2023 (for 2022), then you could be eligible for $2,000 per eligible child.

There are several requirements that will need to be met in order to be eligible for that credit. 

Among them is the fact that you must make at least $2,500 over the course of the year. You can also only make a certain amount of money per year to qualify. For single-income households, that is $200,000, and families that have dual income must make less than $400,000. Also, you and the child must have a valid social security number, and the child must have lived in your house within the United States for at least six months.

Smart Ways to Spend Your Stimulus Check

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Use your stimulus money to maintain your vehicle so it doesn't break down when you need it most.


When you get your first stimulus check, or you receive the perks of the child tax credit, it is important to spend that money wisely. Here are a few smart ideas that you can consider that can help your family going forward.

Pay Off Debts

One of the reasons that you received a stimulus check in the first place is so that you can spend it and get the economy working again. It is also there to help your family stay afloat. You can accomplish both of these goals by paying off the debts that you are struggling with at the moment. 

There are two strategies that you can consider when paying off debt. One is to pay off your largest debt so you can get rid of your most significant burden and be less stressed going forward. The other method is to pay off all of your small debts, so you have less to worry about overall. Then, you can put all of your focus on the debt that remains.

Start An Emergency Fund

Since you can never predict what will happen in the future, it is also a wise idea to put this stimulus money into an emergency fund. This is money that you should not touch unless you are in dire straits or there is a medical emergency. Consider putting the money in a high-interest savings account so it will continue to add up over time.

Tune Up Your Vehicle

The last thing that you need during a financial downturn is for your vehicle to break down and prevent you from being able to get to work. Now that you have some extra money, consider using it to give your car or truck a tune-up. Rotate the tires, change the oil, and maintain any parts of the vehicle that have been giving you issues. It will likely cost a lot less to make these repairs now than it will if the issue gets worse.


In conclusion, the amount of the first stimulus check was $500 per child. It is a nice perk, to be sure. However, it is what you did with that money that will really make the difference. The lesson is to always save and use your money wisely, as you never know what might come next.

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