Some of you were fortunate enough to get a stimulus check this January. Instead of heading to your Amazon cart or blowing it on sourdough starter or videos on demand, consider using your stimulus check to put some good back into the world.

Here’s our Top 3 Suggestions:

Support a local business. Spend your dollar locally and you could save local businesses. This is not hyperbole. COVID is really hurting local businesses, but you can help. Choose to spend all or a part of your stimulus dough at your favorite local businesses. Or discover some new ones to support! You can find profiles of Community Loan Fund businesses here. And here’s a great local business guide, produced by Alliance for the Creative Economy.

Donate to your favorite charity. You don’t have to give it all away! But nonprofits have been hit hard this year, even as they’re filling increasingly wide gaps left by COVID. Consider donating at least some of your stimulus money to a local nonprofits who help with causes you care about, whether it be poverty alleviation, arts & education, youth services, etc. Here’s some nonprofits that are going above and beyond to help communities impacted by COVID.

Invest. We’re not saying pour all your money back into your 401K, although you could… Instead, we’re suggesting you put your money back into your local community by investing in the Community Loan Fund. When you invest money with us, we pool that money with other investments to build new minority- and women-owned businesses, develop new community projects, and support the valuable work of local non-profits. All investments are repaid, with interest. Dividends range from 0.50% to 1.75%, depending on the term of the investment. But the biggest incentive for investors has been the desire to give back to their local community and be part of neighborhood revitalization activities. Learn more about our investing program or our Emerging Investor Network program, which comes with free financial education workshops here.

Helping others can go a long way toward de-stressing in these stressful times. It helps you remember, that even when you’re feeling isolated or powerless, there’s a bigger community out there and you are indeed part of it. Deep breath.

Now, get back to your sourdough!