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These are the best ways to use your stimulus check

A new Gallup poll found that 35% of Americans plan to use the money to pay bills, 29% will save or invest the money and 3% plan to donate their checks to charity.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Money from the federal CARES Act might already be in your bank account, but that doesn't mean you have to spend it now. 

A new Gallup poll found that 35% of Americans plan to use the money to pay bills, 29% will save or invest the money and 3% plan to donate their checks to charity.

University of Washington Finance Professor Thomas Gilbert suggests people think about their stimulus money in a new way. 

"If you think about it as disaster insurance, payment disaster insurance check call, then it's very clear that the first and only thing people should focus on is key essentials and the key essentials are lodging and food," said Gilbert.

RELATED: IRS stimulus check status tracker is now online | Here's what you need to know

In a poll on the KING 5 Facebook page, some people said they'd pay off credit card debt— but is that a good idea? 

"I would say first try to negotiate. Can I defer every kind of credit card payments other kinds of car payments or student loans? Can I just defer everything? But if you can't make the minimum payments to avoid massive increases in interest rates," said Gilbert. 

If you end up with leftover stimulus money, Gilbert suggest preparing for the future.

"Given that this is a liquidity crisis, and we're not sure yet if this is going to last, another four weeks or another eight weeks. The rest you save it," said Gilbert.

RELATED: You could get a $2,000 per month stimulus check under proposed bill