What Will You Do With Your Economic Stimulus Check?

The first of the economic stimulus rebate checks were planned to be distributed this week and it seems as if it’s created a bit of a feeding frenzy. Retailers such as Kroger and Sears are offering financial bonuses while Wal-mart is offering free check cashing and a few price breaks on food items. Of course you could take advantage of offers like these, but what should you do with your rebate? Well, luckily, there’s plenty of advice to give you food for thought. Newsweek suggests the following:

  • Kill the [credit] card debt
  • Add to it by getting a retailer bonus
  • Buy an item that’s good for the environment
  • Save it in a retirement account
  • Sock it away for college expenses
  • Have needed medical work
  • Take a vacation
  • Give it away

CNN Money has similar advice:

  • Spend it on environmentally-friendly items
  • Get a retailer bonus
  • Pay off debts
  • Invest it in career development

As does Smart Money:

Comments

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  1. AMetamorphosis says:

    hmmm, perhaps I’ll fill my car a few times and buy some groceries … that should use up my check fairly quickly.

  2. ironchef says:

    you lucky bastards. I earn too much so I can’t get my government handout.

  3. laserjobs says:

    Buy bricks of nickels to resell in the future

  4. SkokieGuy says:

    Used a tip from Consumerist ‘deals of the day’ to finally get my first flat screen TV. $599.00 for a 42″.

    And since my cable company provides one free converter box and will not sell more (only $10.95 monthly rental x 2 TVs), in less than 3 years, the savings in rental fees will pay for the TV,

    Thank you Consumerist!

  5. backbroken says:

    No rebate for me either. But if I got one, I’d probably go on a shopping spree as I don’t have any high interest debt and hate the thought of investing it only to watch it die the slow death of stagflation.

  6. courtarro says:

    I’m doing the patriotic thing and buying an Escalade with 24″ rims. I figure the stimulus check will get me at least 3 tanks of gas, which will help the ailing oil companies. They will naturally pass on the profit to their respective community programs, and thus the economy will be reinvigorated.

  7. boxjockey68 says:

    about 50.00 of mine will go to a bill, the rest will be saved for an emergency.

  8. Dobernala says:

    “# Buy an item that’s good for the environment”

    Not buying anything is better for the environment, unless you’re replacing something that is worse for the environment.

  9. leastcmplicated says:

    a new bed! and its about time too

  10. heyitsme says:

    Roth IRA contribution.

  11. kittenfoo says:

    mine’s going toward legal fees from defending myself against an abusive ex-spouse bent on either bankrupting me or harassing me right into the loony bin.

  12. Raignn says:

    We’re paying off the rest of the very inexpensive used car we purchase, so vote 1 for debt.

    The rest is going to pay for our trip to Albania and Greece in 4 weeks. Too bad America we’re going to go help another country’s economy!

    Seriously though, as nice as it is to get free money, this stimulus check really isn’t substantial enough to make a big impact.. in my opinion.

  13. rbcat says:

    School tuition!

    I will get done with this degree…

  14. forgottenpassword says:

    goes right into savings.

  15. bradanomics says:

    @ironchef:

    Yet we are the lucky bastards. Because you make too much.

    [bp3.blogger.com]

  16. snoop-blog says:

    @ironchef: sounds to me like your the lucky bastard!

    anyway, hookers and blow all the way!

  17. Starfury says:

    We bought appliances at Sears in January with their 0% financing for 12 months. We’re going to take our $1800 and pay down that bill. The entire balance will be paid off by the end of the year…I will not be paying 24% interest on the unpaid balance.

  18. dragonfire81 says:

    I can guarantee most people will use these checks to pay down bills or buy groceries or gas, not buy fancy new cell phones or big screen TVs.

  19. Illusio26 says:

    Paying off a couch we bought with %0 a few months ago and then saving the rest.

  20. Anks329 says:

    I’m going to use to get the new iphone… when it finally gets released that is

  21. Scalvo2 says:

    I already bought a freeweight set and it needs to be paid off.

    So I will be paying off my credit card debt!

  22. MissPeacock says:

    Since I had to pay roughly $600 in taxes this year, it’s going in the bank to make it even out.

  23. kallawm says:

    If the powers that be would, ya know, think ahead a little bit, they’d realize that paying off debt WILL help the economy.

    Let’s say I owe $1,000 (I wish!). If I’m like lots of people and have high interest on that debt, a substantial amount of my monthly payment is paying that interest and not making much of a dent in my debt. If I go ahead and pay the damn thing off, I’ve got that extra money each month to spend on things like flat screen TV’s. :)

  24. Buran says:

    New wristwatch (I’m a leftie so it’s hard to find right-crown watches but I finally found one I like that isn’t too small) and the 3G iphone.

    I only have a car loan debtwise and I’m already massively overpaying that to pay it early, so I’m not going to use my stimulus check for that.

    I already set aside savings each month.

  25. chrisjames says:

    Shame on all of you miserly debtors that aren’t spending. My wife and I will be doing the right thing. We’re taking almost all of that $1200 economic stimulus and doing with it what it’s meant for: stimulating the economy … the Canadian economy. Yeah, it’s for our trip to Canada.

  26. Buran says:

    @Buran: Oops. LEFT crown watches. I found a mens’ in 43mm (about the largest I’ll wear). Much better than the tiny 24mm Dakota southpaw I have now. Plus it’s black and looks mean.

  27. Bladefist says:

    I’m going to use it to increase my carbon footprint. Not sure if I’m going to indefinitely leave my water running, leave my AC set at 55, or drive my car in such ways to increase gas consumption. I’ll figure something out.

    Just need to cancel out at least 3 other people using theirs to help the environment.

    I kid I kid.

  28. Bladefist says:

    @MissPeacock: Me too. I’m evening out!

  29. gamin says:

    I’ll just save them because next year I will have to pay them

  30. zentex says:

    @Bladefist: Thank you, for the laugh. :D

    I’m paying off the deposit on a dog for my daughter, bank some, pay-ahead some bills, take $1 and “go nuts” stimulating the economy.

  31. New computer! I should have paid off our last commercial student loan (knock on wood!) by the time it arrives, and our computer is sputtering and dying. (And we have no other “bad” debt.)

    Although I might use the actual checks to go get the Kroger gift cards and just mentally shuffle the money around. :)

  32. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @Bladefist:

    You’re a sonofabitch, but that was hilarious.

  33. Dillenger69 says:

    It’s going to pay down the credit. We’re almost there.

    My July bonus is going for a new HDTV however. No More Credit. If we can’t buy it with cash and it’s not an emergency we don’t buy it.

  34. Mary says:

    Since the amount I owed on my taxes was about equal to the amount of my stimulus check, I think breaking out even means no extra spending for me.

  35. PunditGuy says:

    @Starfury: Be careful — if you don’t pay it off, you get dinged for interest on the full amount for the full 12 months, not on just the amount you have left to pay.

  36. arthurat says:

    i had to write a check to the IRS and the Colorado department of revenue this year. This money is earmarked to return to savings.

  37. courtneywoah says:

    Me and my fiance are using ours to help with the first/last/security on an apartment. This is the last year we will be renting before we buy our house! Woohoo! We have a little credit card debt, but that is already on a set payment plan (that my fiance came up with) and will be paid off by summer of ’09. A lot of people I work with are using their check to help pay off debt.

  38. Toof_75_75 says:

    I already blew my return on a huge TV, my rebate will probably go to something more reasonable…Savings, rent or school loans, most likely.

  39. sir_eccles says:

    It’s all going on black baby, NO red! Dammit!

  40. Trai_Dep says:

    Show the Bush Republicans you’re not their patsy and give some of it to one of the Dem Presidential candidates and some of it to the Dems’ Congressional race people.

    Heh.

  41. SonicMan says:

    Vegas baby…

  42. laserjobs says:

    Trip to Cuba!!!

  43. Pro-Pain says:

    Drugs.

  44. Traveshamockery says:

    $1200 Tax Rebate
    -570 Car Repair (5 months overdue)
    -200 Gas Grill for house
    -100 Dress for Wife (gotta keep her smiling)
    -100 Gas Weed Eater
    -230 Savings
    ————————————
    $0.00.

  45. parliboy says:

    I’m using it for a vacation.

    I’ve got a plane flight that’s paid for by my tax refund (about $300 round trip) and a car rental that’s paid for by my stimulus check (about $600 for 18 days). I’ll still need to pay for hotel, but I prefer to stay in hostels when I’m traveling alone, so that cuts that cost down.

    (As to why I’d fly if I was going to drive around — I calculated that the impact against the total cost of ownership of my car would be almost break even — especially once you consider $4 / gallon summer driving.)

    I’m already putting away several thousand dollars on top of my retirement plan ($100 a week auto-transfer from checking to savings), so I don’t feel guilty about treating myself.

    I’m not worried about job loss, at least not for this year, as the place I work is still growing instead of shrinking.

    And by the time I get back from vacation, the only debt I’ll have will be and credit card expenses incurred during the trip plus my student loans. I consolidated the loans down to 2% interest rate, so I’m in no great hurry to pay them off.

  46. MyPetFly says:

    Pay rent.

    After being unemployed for six weeks (laid off) and having the State of California and/or the US Postal Service screw up two weeks’ worth of unemployment (so I don’t get it), the “stimulate this” check is going to pay most of our rent for May.

  47. Triterion says:

    How is this supposed to stimulate the economy if only 24% of people are going to spend it on anything?

  48. ekthesy says:

    I’m converting it all to euros!

  49. jimv2000 says:

    Donate it back to the Treasury.

  50. I’m going to get 600 $1 Best Buy gift cards, buy a flat screen and pay for it with all of those gift cards.

  51. synergy says:

    Into savings for when I go back to school. Then I won’t have to work to pay off the tuition.

  52. MyPetFly says:

    @Triterion:

    Exactly.

    264 days and counting down, King Bush.

  53. SonicMan says:

    @Triterion: Unless the rest stick it under a matress, it will help.

    If they do not spend it, but save it in a bank, it helps out the banks.

  54. synergy says:

    @ekthesy: Good plan! Converting to Yuans would be a good idea too.

  55. Skiffer says:

    Well, seeing as how the Democrats decided, in their infinite wisdom, that I don’t deserve a stimulus check because I would just save / invest the money (which everyone seems to be doing anyways)…

    I’ll just use $600 of my own money to buy votes for the Republicans.

  56. Diet-Orange-Soda says:

    We only have a mortgage, student loans, and a no interest car loan looming over our heads so interest isn’t nipping at our heels. So our stimulus (and some of our refund) is going to my good friends at Newegg for some much needed PC components.

  57. cubejockey says:

    Euros, Yuan or 5 barrels of oil.

    Nah we’re not in a recession…

  58. Coelacanth says:

    I’m still in the process of deciding what to do, but I’m thinking the following:

    - 50% in a high-yield emergency savings account.
    - 50% towards debt.

    I’m cautiously looking into converting a sizable portion of my HY savings into ETFs or mutual funds, but I’m comparing online brokerages and still planning an investment strategy.

    Also the 50/50 split is still subject to negotiation.

  59. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Disaster preparedness supplies. What disaster? Um, Gulf Coast hurricanes, terrorism, bird flu, economic unrest, sudden illness or unemployment, whatever might happen that would make us glad to have some stuff socked away.

  60. chiieddy says:

    Pay off cc with half and save the rest. I’m very un-American.

  61. B says:

    I was planning on using it to buy a PS3, but now it’s going into my savings account to replace the money used for car repairs/tires.

  62. headhot says:

    Spend it in Canada

  63. balthisar says:

    It’s not really enough to do anything with, so I guess I’ll just save it. Normal, every day stuff (gas, groceries) we have covered through responsible money management, which includes cutbacks. So it’d be frivolous to decide (for example) to start eating double-cheeseburgers again when single hamburgers are good enough.

    If it were double, maybe I’d consider the new 3 gigahertz iMac. But in this economy, 2 gigahertz is just going to have to be enough.

  64. Manok says:

    Making a payment on my property overseas I recently purchased. Take that bush!

  65. SearchX says:

    $600 is just the right amount for a PS3 (which doubles as a blu-ray player) and some accessories/games!

  66. Gokuhouse says:

    Well, I’m having a baby soon so I’ll be using it to help pay for everything we need to survive I guess. Put 500 or so of it in my propane tank so I can have heat next winter…And whatever remains if any will be for gas, groceries, bills.

  67. stacy75 says:

    Dave Barry explains the rebates:

    Q. What is an Economic Stimulus Payment?

    A. It is money that the federal government will send to taxpayers.

    Q. Where will the government get this money?

    A. From taxpayers.

    Q. So the government is giving me back my own money?

    A. Only a smidgen.

    Q. What is the purpose of this payment?

    A. The plan is that you will use the money to purchase a high-definition TV set, thus stimulating the economy.

    Q. But isn’t that stimulating the economy of China?

    A. Shut up.

  68. Underpants Gnome says:

    Ordered a Wii with mine :-)

  69. falc says:

    Home improvements for us. We’re installing new vinyl soffits and fascia at our house. Sounds sexy doesnt it?
    I tell my wife we’re helping out the local small business man. But i secretly think to myself how that small business man is preventing me from watching the rest of the hockey playoffs on a high def tv… (which is what i wanted to buy)

  70. FreeMarketGravy says:

    Whatever I can in one night in Atlantic City. Which, after a room, is maybe 2 drinks, but hey, we all stimulate the economy in our own ways.

  71. yesteryear says:

    i was planning to pay down debt, but got a flat tire last night… so now i’m living the american dream: buying durable goods.

  72. catnapped says:

    I’m forwarding mine straight to China.

    Why bother helping the middleman (Mall Wart) when it’s so much easier my way.

  73. Erwos says:

    Spend it on some furniture, since we’re closing on our first home early next month. I actually think the real estate market will fall quite a bit more, but I negotiated a fairly good deal that should insulate us from the worst of it. I was also worried that inflation and the credit crunch would make buying a home even tougher later, so decided to catch the market halfway down rather than trying to hit it on the bottom. There was also the “threat” of recovery and a bail-out to consider. Meh, economics is hard (and I have a degree in it!).

    I guess furniture and household stuff along those lines would be a fairly good place to put it, in terms of helping the American economy.

  74. FLConsumer says:

    Save, Save, Save!!! I want my whopping <2% interest (F-U Bernanke!) on my money.

  75. backbroken says:

    I’m going to buy 100 large bags of rice from Costco.
    .
    .
    .

    What’s that you say?

  76. BrentNewland says:

    I get paid friday, so between the two (hopefully around $1200), I’ll be:

    $200 Paying rent (twice monthly)
    $110 Paying insurance
    $45 Buying high-end steaks and burgers for a barbq
    $50 Filling up my gas tank
    $110 Joining AAA so I can get my new (old) truck towed home
    $??? Buying miscellaneous parts for my 85 Cadillac (missing or damaged trim, body computer, windshield, etc.)
    $??? Buying part of my stereo system for the 1080p projector I’m building (three days of work into it, hopefully one or two left)

  77. I’m saving mine so that I can move to Seattle next year and get out of Arkansas. Thanks US Government for helping me move!

  78. justbychance says:

    I’m buying one share of GOOG, but the way things are going $600 may not be able to cover it. :(

    Where is ComScore when you need them.

  79. Munkeyhatecleen says:

    Online poker.

  80. dry-roasted-peanuts says:

    Spent it on an AV receiver and some speakers last month.

  81. Starfury says:

    @PunditGuy: I am VERY aware of this having taken advantage of “free” money in the past. Always pay them off 2 months before they’re due. It’s not that I don’t have the money to pay for it but If I can leave the $3800 in the bank for 9 months getting some interest it’s better for me in the long run.

  82. sonneillon says:

    Get drunk on top shelf liquor.

  83. rbb says:

    @Gokuhouse:

    If you have your baby this year, you may be eligible for an additional $300 payment. I believe that if you are eligible, you will get it when you file your 2008 taxes.

  84. jeff303 says:

    @Bladefist: Just start filling your toilet bowl with Fiji water.

  85. thwarted says:

    It’ll make a nice dent in the last credit card. Whee!

  86. my_imaginary_friends_bore_me says:

    Hmm I could bet it all on 16 red, buy a really, really good bottle of single malt scotch, or just put toward a down payment on a house. Decisions, decisions!

  87. FightOnTrojans says:

    Save up for the summer. Wife is a teacher, and her school district doesn’t split her salary into 12 payments, so we gotta save up.

    Must…resist…impulse…buying.

  88. MichaelSF says:

    God, am I the only one who thinks that $500 or $600, whatever it is, is about as big a deal as finding a $20 bill on the street.

    Here in San Francisco $600 lasts about a weekend. It won’t pay 1/4 of my monthly rent and won’t put a dent in my debt.

    I guess it’s supposed to stimulate the economy by people spending it, which is what I would do. Guess I am saying that $600 is such a trivial amount it’s not even worth talking about what I would do with it.

    All the news channels are interviewing people and asking what they will do with the money, as if they just won the lottery.

    Is $600 that big a deal to people? Here in California $100k annual income is barely middle class. So I can’t see anyone around here getting all worked up about it and not even to be looking for it in the mail.

    Meh… does not matter to me for an additional reason, I won’t be getting one. But still, $600? I can blow that on a single Saturday and have to hit the ATM on Sunday.

    If a family qualifies for over $1200 or whatever the amount is, well now you’re talking about a nice hit. I’d be looking forward to that check.

    Not a snob or anything, just sayin. Especially considering how the Administration has screwed up the economy to where gas here in SF is $4 a gallon. $600 really goes far with those kinds of prices. What a bunch of frauds Bush and Cheney are, “Here’s some chump change chump, to give back us at the pump.” I digress, forgive me.

  89. BlackFlag55 says:

    If we were getting a check, I’d hoard gasloine.

  90. jayrwasdf says:

    I’m going to put it back right were it came from.
    I’ll buy some U.S. savings bonds.
    Of course, that’s probably a losing proposition in many regards.

  91. EBone says:

    Not getting one. Even though the feds are keeping 45% of my salary, I make too much money to qualify. You’d think the more you put in the more you’d get back, but not in bizzaro-land.

  92. comedian says:

     
    @EBone:
     
    Right there with you EBone.
     

  93. trujunglist says:

    @ironchef:

    I’ll switch places with you if you want.

  94. trujunglist says:

    @zentex:

    Deposit on a dog? I hope you’re going through the humane society…

  95. mmbb says:

    @ironchef:
    YOU lucky bastard. I had no earned wages last year, and therefore wasn’t eligible for the stimulus check.

  96. cmh77 says:

    I’m using mine to kill my debt… By filing Bankruptcy! Haha.. take that Citigroup…

  97. My girlfriend and I are starting new hobbies. She bought a pottery wheel and I’m going to buy a nice telescope. Of course, I was planning on buying a telescope with or without a stimulus check, so I guess the money I would’ve spent out of my own pocket is going to end up in savings anyways… so, double jeopardy.

  98. Politicians are idiots. They think this money is going to the economy, when most people are just going to throw it into their black hole of debt, which renders it useless to the economy.

  99. BigElectricCat says:

    I’m going long in hot wings futures. Soon all your hot wings will belong to us.

  100. Andronicus1717 says:

    eeePC 900

  101. wring says:

    vegas and a secondhand laptop

  102. lindsey520 says:

    Damn student loans… I’ll be putting my $600 towards paying those down.

  103. Akamaru says:

    @MichaelSF:

    I agree, SF $100,000 is definitely barely middle class. Not all parts of California are that extreme. However, CA does have a much higher cost of living than most states in the union.

    I also have to agree with the sentiment about the $600. It’s like the government is saying:
    ” Sorry you won’t get any worthwhile rate of return since you decided to be a saver instead of a debtor. Ya know, since we dropped interest rates below the real inflation rate (cost of oil and other things not counted normally). But as a consolation we’ll give you $600 bucks to blow like all those fools who over extended themselves.

    Thanks Uncle Sam for enabling the addicts. All I want is for my hard earned and SAVED money not to be worth less than crap. Also $300-$600 is not that much money, I can’t even pay rent on that.

  104. modenastradale says:

    @MichaelSF: Yes, I understand, although I wouldn’t say $600 is equivalent to $20 (after all, $20 is equivalent to $20).

    My GF and I were recently looking at our long-term finances and came to a pretty depressing realization. That realization was that it would take a LARGE amount of money to register a significant improvement in either of our lives. In my case, if I inherited $50,000 tomorrow, tax-free, from an unknown relative, I’d barely notice an improvement in my financial problems.

    (Of course, I could buy $50,000 worth of trinkets I don’t need, but that’s not the point.)

  105. juri squared says:

    @falc: We’re doing home improvements, too. We were planning on getting a backyard fence with our yearly tax refund, but then our furnace died. So now we’re getting a fence with our monkey money.

  106. scientician says:

    Ironically, many consumers are using the stimulus check to file for bankruptcy.

  107. robinsta5967 says:

    I’m going to start saving to buy my girlfriend an engagement ring.

  108. oregongal says:

    Home improvement tops the list this year. Then we can tell the insurance company to eat rocks and die.

    New extension ladder = $209
    8 gallons paint = $180
    New String Trimmer = $150
    brushes, rollers, etc = $ 50
    Pizza for the crew = $ 12

    Savings = $300

  109. CyberSkull says:

    I will put some into my savings, some into my checking, and that’s it.

  110. VeritasNoir says:

    @MichaelSF: Really? You sound pretty snobbish. It makes a big difference to the little people like me and my room-mates (yeah, we share a small apartment to afford rent).

  111. ideagirl says:

    I’m investing mine in gold.

    You know, so when society collapses I’m covered. DUH.

  112. lainykai says:

    I’m adopting a cat from a rescue with mine. This way when I stay home to save money I’ll have a new companion. The rest is paying off my minimal debt.

  113. parrotuya says:

    I am going down to Home Depot to buy some wood and nails so I can make my own waterboard simulated drowning device!

    [www.flickr.com]

  114. LionelEHutz says:

    “I feel so cold,
    On hookers and gin,
    This mess we’re in.”

    - Portishead, “Western Eyes”

  115. Greg A. says:

    I’m going to sock it away until 2010, by which point it will have ballooned to $612. The economy will have cratered so deeply by then that the median home price in SoCal should be right around $700, and I’ll get an 80-year fixed mortgage for the remaining $84. (I have excellent credit.) Sa-weeeeet!!

  116. ShadowFalls says:

    In the end, the only thing this
    “economic stimulus” is going to stimulate, is banks.

  117. Anitra says:

    Debt, debt, and debt, with a side of debt. Maybe we’ll take $50 and pay for a new Wii game.

    In theory, giving mine to Sallie Mae will make it easier for them to lend out money to current students.

  118. I’m going to start my own oil ready reserve, complete with canned sardines and bottled water in my own bomb shelter beneath the Adirondacks. Then, when Americans can no longer afford oil, I’ll be sitting on my high horse and selling it for obscene amounts to make an extreme profit….

    Oh, damn, the President got to that idea first….

  119. Jim says:

    @Greg A.: Hilarious! I love it. Don’t forget to factor in inflation, your $612 is in 2008 dollars. By 2010 that might be a loaf of white bread, and package of bologna (if you’ve got the mail-in rebate).

    We get one of the big checks (married with a child, woo-hoo!). This just goes into the pile, it will eventually be passed back out to the mortgage company, BMV, student loans, and Lowe’s, and the bills for baby #2 who is racing the check to see who gets here first. All this after collecting 1.25% for as long as possible in the good ol’ losemoneymoreslowlyat1.25% account.

    Today’s my birthday, so maybe I’ll nudge the wife toward the PS3′s again too, but that will likely be futile. GTA 4 is not a persuasive argument for her.

  120. muffingal says:

    I was planning to pay down debt but since I already had plans to go to Vegas, I will buy my airfare with the money.

  121. @ironchef: Gee, my heart bleeds for poor, overpaid you.

    While I’m only getting half the “advertised” amount because I don’t make enough money (because of course, the best way to stimulate the economy is to give money to people who don’t need it as much, mm-hmm), I’m still going to sock it away for a downpayment on a new(-to-me) car. Mine is pushing 200,000 miles and I bet I have to replace it this year. It’ll be good to be able to save something towards it rather than buying some craptastic $300 beater (again).

  122. Negative says:

    Nevada brothels here I come!

  123. Pixel says:

    xBox 360 & GTA4. But then I was going to get them anyway, this just means I won’t have to spend my own money.

    So thank you US government for allowing me to buy video games that (according to Jack Thompson) destroy the moral fiber of this country.

    Maybe with the leftover I can by sex toys to help further the moral decay of this great nation.