What to do with your stim­u­lus check

The Covington News - - Opin­ion -

On Mon­day, folks be­gan see the fruits of the 2008 Stim­u­lus Pack­age ar­rive in their check­ing ac­counts — ear­lier than ex­pected.

So what will you do with the ex­tra money?

Law­mak­ers in­tended for us to spend the money to help stim­u­late a lethar­gic econ­omy by not us­ing the money to pay down debt but to use it to pur­chase new goods.

The ways to spend the money has been a topic of con­ver­sa­tion since the pack­age was an­nounced ear­lier in the year.

Most, in­clud­ing my­self, are tempted to use the money to pay off credit card bills or to put in the sav­ings ac­count for rainy days that, by all ac­counts, could be on the way.

But the kid in me — that by the way is be­ing spurred on by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment, wants to blow the money on some­thing com­pletely frivolous be­cause, hey, this is money I wasn’t count­ing on.

I’ve had my eye on a new tele­vi­sion since mine is from the dark ages where peo­ple used tubes in­stead of plasma or liq­uid crys­tal. For the first time it is ac­tu­ally good to be bad, but it still feels so wrong.

A 37 inch HDTV would look re­ally nice in my loft, but there are so many other things I could spend the money on that would make more sense.

Like a $600 pay­ment to the stu­dent loan com­pany or a pay­ing off the credit card or, God for­bid, ac­tu­ally pay­ing bills ahead of their due dates.

It is our job, how­ever, to stim­u­late the econ­omy. How can I deny the U.S. Congress its wishes for the stim­u­lus check? It would be un­pa­tri­otic. Right?

So what hap­pens in a cou­ple of months when all the stim­u­lus checks have been spent and the coun­try is faced with try­ing to plan how to get through the rest of this eco­nom­i­cally down time? With­out the prom­ise of a stim­u­lus check in an­other six months, what will we do?

Don’t get me wrong; I’m su­per ex­cited about get­ting a check on May 9, but can it re­ally pull our econ­omy out of the dol­drums.

Will gas be any less ex­pen­sive af­ter the checks are sent out?

Will food be any less ex­pen­sive when all the stim­u­lus money has been spent?

Will the dol­lar find its once un­touch­able strength when all is said and done and Stim­u­lus 2008 is in the record books? Prob­a­bly not. That would be a real stim­u­lus right now. Let’s have $2.50 a gal­lon gas again (that’s a com­pro­mise at nearly $3.60 a gal­lon). I want to go to the gro­cery store and spend less than $50 for three bags of the most ba­sic food items.

Can the magic stim­u­lus check get us there? Most likely not. So what is the an­swer? If I knew, I would have joined an eco­nomic think tank by now. But I don’t think the stim­u­lus check is the an­swer — it’s nice but not the an­swer.

I sus­pect for a many folks the check will be used to sup­ple­ment their in­come to pay for things like gaso­line and gro­ceries or to pay bills just to keep the lights and wa­ter on.

In five years, we may look back on the Stim­u­lus Pack­age of 2008 as the most in­ge­nious piece of leg­is­la­tion of the decade, but I highly doubt it.

Hope­fully, in five years we will be able, though, to look back and re­flect on a time when we made the best of an eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion that has and will try most of us in ways that we have never been tried.

So as in­fla­tion bal­loons into the strato­sphere and our wal­lets col­lapse from sheer hol­low­ness, re­mem­ber to spend your stim­u­lus check on things that will stim­u­late the econ­omy.

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