Poll Results: How Will You Spend Your Tax Rebates?

Last Thursday we polled our readers for what they plan on doing with their money when they get their tax rebate checks. The result is that Consumerist readers mainly plan on using their money in precisely the opposite way that the politicians want them to, paying off debt (46.3%) and saving it in the bank (30%). All the other options combined, which would have a supposedly more directly stimulating effect on the economy, add up to only 23.8%. Food came in at 1.5%, depreciating assets 8.2%, discretionary spending 4.5% and stimulating the critical beer and cigarette industries 9.6%. It seems our readers are more concerned about their personal finances than the national economy. Good. Maybe if more people were like them we wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place.


Edit Your Comment

  1. BrockBrockman says:

    I think you would have gotten more accurate poll results if one of the options was “spend said money on Ron Paul ’08 campaign.”

    RON PAUL ’08!!!

  2. MaliBoo Radley says:


    Well, if you want to waste your money, that’s up to you …

  3. hypnotik_jello says:

    @BrockBrockman: Ron Paul is a douchenozzle.

  4. @BrockBrockman: What’s the rate of return on that?

  5. friendlynerd says:

    Do the same rules apply here as on Wonkette where Ron Paul spammers get kicked the hell out?

    Can we make the rules that way? Please?

  6. Falconfire says:

    Well you know the truth is paying down Debt does likely have a direct effect on spending, since with less debt people tend to be stupid and spend more.

  7. Nick says:

    Yeah, but I’d bet that people will subconsciously spend more, knowing that they have an extra $600 bucks coming. Most people who use the money to pay off debt will just buy more stuff and accrue more debt.

  8. Nick says:

    @Falconfire: Yup, what you said.

  9. MBZ321 says:

    Why should I buy more Chinese crap with my rebate? It’s going right into the bank for a rainy day.

  10. ekthesy says:

    Just call this the “iPod rebate” since I’m guessing many people will run out and buy some gadget with it.

    I can’t fathom buying something and just standing idly by while the interest clock keeps running on my student loan debt…this rebate is going straight towards the principal. It’s the financial help the government SHOULD have given me in the first place, but decided to farm out to a corporation instead.

  11. Ssscorpion says:

    Consumerist readers mainly plan on using their money in precisely the opposite way that the politicians want them to.

    Gee, imagine that. The strategy that has never worked before won’t work again. I’m shocked! Shocked, I tell you!

  12. Mauvaise says:

    Would it be terribly wrong of me to cash the rebate check and exchange the money for Euros for my (not very) upcoming Europe trip?

  13. matt says:

    I think they tried this back in the 20s.

    Anyways, if they gave me enough money to pay off my debt, PLUS MORE, I might use it to “reinvigorate” the economy. Of course the government would be broke.

  14. HRHKingFriday says:

    @Ssscorpion: Even the talking heads on 24hour news are saying that people who spend it on goods, will probably do so at walmart and other non-local corporations. And then they act all shocked, because, you know, that won’t help the *American* economy. Guess what, it hasn’t been helping us for some time now, I’m glad they finally got that message.

  15. HRHKingFriday says:
  16. @BrockBrockman: I love Paultards. @radleyas: Indeed.

  17. scalv says:

    Actually I think I will donate it all to Ron Paul!

  18. darkened says:

    @scalv: Here here to us donating to the only candidate that gives a flying fuck about true economics and reducing our nations true debt not making up imaginary numbers that act like it’s not there.

  19. nutrigm says:

    Totally looking forward to paying off debt with that dough!

  20. B says:

    Maybe we wouldn’t be in this mess if people didn’t have debt that needed to be paid off in the first place.

  21. shan6 says:

    @B: You’re right, what was I thinking when I got a loan to buy a vehicle so I could manage to get to work!?

  22. darkened says:

    @B: That is a bit far reaching, credit used widely is an important part of the world. Without it many would never have been able to attend college, or bought a car, or a house, or that flat screen tv. It is a double edged sword and can easily take away as much as it can benefit you and more so if used wrongly.

    Of course with a government that has setup with 20-30,000 dollars worth of debt per person and is barely covering the interest payments on it, can you really expect fiscal responsibility from the rest of the country?

  23. jaredharley says:

    Good… it wasn’t just me – the result bars look just as stupid on your computer too :D

  24. rdm24 says:

    I understand how putting the money in a savings account won’t be stimulatory, but doesn’t paying off debt free up more budget for things like food, clothing, and ipods? Won’t that still have the desired effect?

  25. Blackcloud75 says:

    What rebate? It’s already went from $800 to $600 and now the Democrats in the Senate want to give the money to even more people. The new figure now stands at $500. They might as well take mine and go throw it in the Potomac. I’m likely to receive just as much money.

  26. bunnymen says:

    Since voting, I’ve decided to put half in the bank and give half to a pro-choice non-profit (probably NARAL, if they promise not to call me all the time). They can give me money I don’t need, but they can’t tell me what to do with it!

  27. arcticJKL says:

    MAUVAISE: Its OK its your money

    Why isnt putting the money in a bank (by putting it in savings or paying off debt)helping the economy. Someone will spend it.

  28. Joafu says:

    Paying of personal debt means somebody else will be getting money back as well. Paying off my debt won’t allow me to buy ipods, but it will allow my creditor’s children to. Putting it in banks helps just as much, who are looking (so I’ve heard) for money to help bounce back from that sub-prime meltdown. Who cares if people want to save their money. As far as I’m concerned, the less money that the government controls the better.

  29. kingKonqueror says:

    @darkened & @shan6: Why do you need to buy a flatscreen TV? I don’t even have a regular TV. I also go through the somewhat hellish process of biking/taking the bus to work in a very, very automotive-oriented city, in a very, very cold country.

    I also don’t have any debt.

    Seriously, I’m not saying “everyone who has debt is a moron” or anything, but debt should really be reserved for things like emergencies or things that are really necessary; and not necessary as in “no mom I will seriously die if I don’t get an iPod” – but as in “no I will seriously die if I don’t take out a loan to pay for these meds.”

    You know why you need to take out a loan to buy something? Because you can’t afford it. The key words are “can’t afford it.” Those words are a sort of capitalist code for “you can’t have it.”

    </lame rant>

  30. B says:

    @shan6: Good debt vs bad debt. I don’t see anything wrong with getting a loan to buy a car, but buying consumer electronics with credit card debt, well, that’s not so good.

  31. Mayor McRib says:

    Can you add .001% to the Poll and Add the word PUDDING?

    Thanks, I feel like I have been represented now.

  32. secondgreatdepression says:

    Actually, I think this is exactly what the politicians are hoping folks will do – they’re just not saying it openly. Whether the money goes to pay credit cards or into a savings account, that represents more assets on the balance sheet of American banks, many of which are currently strapped for cash. It’s an indirect bailout of the US banking system.

  33. Ausoleil says:

    I think we are going to spend our money stimulating foreign economies by taking a long-overdue vacation to the Caribbean.

  34. shadow735 says:

    actually the poll was limited you shoudl have put up an option to invest in business or other enterprise

  35. redpeppers20xx says:

    Since mine is going to be in the $300 bracket I’ll probably take $200 an place it some of my debt and then the last $100 and put it in the bank for a rainy day or buy myself something useful and needed.

    I’d love to take it and buy and ipod touch but I wasted a lot of money in 2007 on crap I didn’t need and I need to change my ways and be more careful. Maybe once I get some debt paid off I can go get a treat with cash (not credit).

  36. saintjohnson says:

    Its only fair that we focus on our personal finances. The federal gov’t is only doing whats best for their personal finances.

    I’ll probably use mine to pay my 2007 IRS bill.

  37. Shadowman615 says:

    @kingKonqueror: OK, have fun taking the bus to work debt-free then. Some of us also like to own a house and car, and don’t have any problems with making their payments on time or any of that.

  38. unklegwar says:

    @Ausoleil: We’re already stimulating foreign economies by driving and shopping at Wal-Mart.

    That “pay off debt” number is good, nice to see a lot of people have decent sense.

    Tho, it’s a shame that “found” money like this can’t be spent on treating oneself. See? Debt is bad.

  39. matt1978 says:

    @shadow735: Knowing proper spelling and grammar is key to investing. Why not invest your rebate in the “Magic School Bus, Phonics Edition”?

  40. MaliBoo Radley says:


    Thanks for that. I hadn’t heard self righteous bull cookies all day. You filled that void.

  41. humphrmi says:

    Let me first say that I am not by any means giving an opinion here as to whether this stimulus program will work or not. But here’s my take on whether saving / paying off debt / spending helps…

    It all helps. There is no sector unaffected by the current economic climate. If everyone put 150 Billion dollars worth of money into the bank, Banks that are currently looking for foreign investors to maintain their liquidity levels will be swimming in cash, and can forgo the foreign investments.

    Many articles recently have shown that the current sub-prime credit crunch is going to quickly spread to the credit card industry, so if everyone pays off their (most likely credit card) debt with the checks, it’ll hold back another “meltdown” (and to be quite honest, I don’t think I can survive yet another “meltdown…)

    Any spending is good spending; Wal-Mart buys their crap in China but they book the profits here in the U.S., it doesn’t matter.

    About the only thing that we’ve got to worry about is people using their newfound cash to light their stogies. That would be bad.

  42. vermontwriter says:

    Because I’m self-employed and know that they are not considering this payment a “gift”, 35% of this rebate will go into my tax account immediately to pay the taxes they are going to charge you come year end…

  43. greenpepper says:

    I’m going to buy a new TV to replace an ailing old one and circumvent the digital tuner issue.

    Bush’s plan works.

    The new TV will likely be made in Japan, and my old one will likely be recycled to China.

    That is good for our economy, isn’t it? I mean, we’re supposed to spend it, aren’t we?

    Any way of predicting how much of this incentive will profit other nations?

  44. @ekthesy: “I can’t fathom buying something and just standing idly by while the interest clock keeps running on my student loan debt…this rebate is going straight towards the principal.”

    Bingo. That’s EXACTLY where ours is going. We’re like INCHES away from paying off the adjustable-rate one, and then we just have the federal fixed-rate ones sitting at 2.25% and 2.5% until kingdom come, and at that rate, I kinda don’t mind.

    Although I’m ever so tempted to use it to buy chairs that aren’t falling apart and tipping sideways. But once the adjustable-rate student loan is paid off, probably I can buy those anyway with real money. :)

  45. UnStatusTheQuo says:

    I wish “buy Euros” would have been an option.

  46. missbheave (is not convinced) says:

    @Ssscorpion: Also, didn’t it cost like $19M to print and mail the checks the last time they did this?

  47. shadow735 says:

    Hey Matt1978 why don’t you try saying something positive or is it your job ridicule and belittle people? Maybe that’s your talent. Its not like I am typing a resume. Sometimes my fingers get dyslexic when I type. Why don’t you turn your focus on something besides proving to everyone that you’re a dick. Thanks..

  48. ConnerC says:

    Apparently the fact that I want to spend mine on the car I’ve been saving up over a year for means I’m a bad person – funny how that works.

  49. kwsdurango says:

    I don’t get a rebate (Single, Self Employed, Income +$75k, Not a Homeowner)… I take some satisfaction from the fact that at least the readers and poll voters here will use the money that I paid in taxes to reduce their debt. Hopefully a little debt reduction today will forestall the need for a larger (bullshit) re-distribution of my hard earned tax dollars later. What a stupid proposal. Anyone surprised that it comes during an election year?

  50. psyop63b says:

    The results don’t surprise me. I’d presume that most Consumerist readers are above average in the frugality department. With all the stories on this blog, personal finance and otherwise, I’m sure most of us are savers. I’m in the paying off debt category.

    Anybody wonder what’d happen to the economy if everyone were as frugal as a consumerist?

  51. m4ximusprim3 says:

    @Mayor McRib: Jump that to .002%.

    Pudding ’08!

  52. jrdnjstn78 says:

    The last time they did this I didn’t get a rebate, so I doubt I will get one this time. Alot of these people don’t know that you’re supposed to pay taxes on this “rebate check” just like last time or did you have to deduct it from your taxes.

    If I did happen to get this it would go to paying off credit card.

    I wonder too what would happen to the economy if people were frugal.

  53. GearheadGeek says:

    @saintjohnson: I certainly agree that it’s only fair (and logical) for us to look to our personal finances and improve our situation with this rebate. I don’t think any rational person will agree with you that the government is making choices in the best interests of THEIR finances, though. “Let’s change a surplus into monstrous, unprecendented deficits! Won’t that be fun?”

  54. Sherryness says:

    I just clicked on “paying down my debt” because there wasn’t an option for “getting the hell out of Iowa and moving back to Seattle!” Well, the $600 won’t do that entirely, but it will sure help.

  55. Thorny says:

    Why don’t they just give us Best Buy gift cards instead of checks? Oh wait, apparently we’re not good at spending those either.

  56. rjhiggins says:

    Sure, NOW people say they’re going to save it, pay off debt, etc. That’s the “right” thing to say to a pollster. But when that check shows up I bet there’ll be a run on iPhones and XBoxes.

  57. Trai_Dep says:

    -hic – Any Consumerists that voted “Booze & Smokes” meet at my house when the checks come out.

    We’ll par-tay!

    (I guess this means, when we’re good, we’re good. When we’re bad, we’re very bad… I’m happy with that designation. :D)

  58. Trai_Dep says:

    And, pretty darned proud that Sin is the #1 vote-getter, besides the “Gallant” options.

    If Goofus is, “Buy expendable consumer items on your credit card before the ‘rebates’ are available,” and Gallant is, “Deposit the sucker,” who’s name do we apply for the “Rum, the Lash & Sodomy” Consumerists?

  59. Skiffer says:

    Huh…Imagine that…

    I was planning to spend my rebate (plus more) on a new home theater system…but the a$$ plungers that call themselves democrats decided I shouldn’t get any rebate…

    Oh well, looks like the economy’s still gonna tank…guess I’ll just buy gold and euros instead.

  60. synergy says:

    Who’s to say that paying down debt isn’t the ultimate goal? As I’ve said before, it would be a bank bailout by laundering it through citizens.

  61. cmdr.sass says:

    The return on your investment in Ron Paul is 1000%, payable in Liberty Dollars backed by the full faith and credit of the Montana Militia.

  62. Trai_Dep says:

    For the love of all that’s unholy, can we please make it an insta-banning offense for Paultards to spam Consumerist?

    Love ’em to bits on Wonkette – where they receive the warm, loving embrace* as orphan-gobbling Wal-Mart executives do here – but their trolling has no place here.

    * Wonkette commentators’ promises (or threats if your masculinity is precariously balanced) of vigorous assf*cking lovingly added – gratis!

  63. Hambriq says:

    I second the Ron Paul notion.

  64. Hambriq says:

    Trai_Dep’s Ron Paul notion, rather than the actual Ron Paul notion, that is.

  65. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    For the love of all that’s unholy, can we please make it an insta-banning offense for Paultards to spam Consumerist?

    Pretty, pretty please? With a cherry on top?

    Honestly, I think the Ron Paul spammers are actually trying to stop people from voting for him by making us all hate him in much the same way that phishing e-mails hurt the company the scammer is pretending to be even when we know the e-mail is a scam.

  66. scalv says:

    How is it trolling or spam? This post is about how we will spend our tax rebate. Have you even looked at Ron Paul’s ideas? If you did then you would see how donating to him would be the best way to spend the tax rebate.

    Or are you just trolling?

  67. BlazerUnit says:

    Donating to Ron Paul will only ensure that he won’t owe money on travel and consulting expenses once he’s ultimately forced to end his presidential campaign.