(WKBN) – With stimulus checks coming in and the new year starting, setting new financial goals may be at the top of your 2021 to-do list.

Today, we talked with a financial advisor about what you should be doing with these $600 checks we’re getting from the government. He also gave some insight into the most responsible ways to use your check.

It has been a busy year for financial planners.

“As we’ve gone through this pandemic, it’s really caused a lot of people to focus on, ‘How do I get through this,’ and then look to the future,” said Brian Laraway, a partner at Bury Financial Group.

But with some quick, extra money in your pocket from our second round of stimulus checks, your first thought may be to buy something shiny and new. However, that may not be the best idea.

“First of all, you have to see what your situation is as far as, do you have bills that need paid? So that’s really gonna be the first priority, is make sure to be able to pay your bills,” Laraway said.

With job loss, many people are wondering how they’re going to pay for electricity, gas or rent.

Laraway says if those bills are paid, then you should look to do what he calls “suring up your own defenses.”

“The next step is having that emergency fund because stuff happens, unfortunately, you know, car breaks, something with the house. You need access to that money. So, you don’t want that money to come in and gone and then something happens and be like, ‘Aww, I really didn’t need whatever I bought,'” Laraway said.

Maybe you are financially secure during this time and looking outside the box for ways to use the money.

“I think something giving to charity, maybe really helping some of the vulnerable population that has been hit really hard by this pandemic — the local businesses, the people that work at those local businesses,” Laraway said.

As for investing the money, that depends on how much time you have.

“It’s gonna depend upon the person and their risk tolerance and risk profile, but if your time frame is longer, the market might be a good place for you. If your time frame is shorter, I would maybe avoid that and stick to something a little bit safer,” Laraway said.

He added that one big thing you may want to do in the new year with or without a stimulus is set a budget. From there, he said making financial decisions long-term will be easier.