Thursday, May 1, 2008

Spend It All In One Place

This week I was one of the lucky Americans who received their economic stimulus checks from the Feds. I guess there was some way they devised based on the last two digits of your Social Security number and if you were a certain number you would have your direct deposit at the beginning of the week.

First of all, I forgot this was even happening. Secondly, I can't ever remember to pick up my paycheck, not because I don't need it, but because I can't remember that added step. I'm not on the payroll so I can't have it direct deposited and that isn't going to be getting any better any time soon, actually I'm taking a pay cut in a week. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised when I signed into my banking account Tuesday morning to find my $300 from the Feds waiting for me.

I get the feeling that the government wants me to spend my money all in the same place. They hand you the check and want you to go spend crazy. Well, my version of spend crazy is buying two CDs in the same week or going grocery shopping (something I despise). So, the money has been sitting in my checking account for two days waiting for me to figure out what I'm going to do with it. I suspect a lot of Americans, despite the government's suggestion to do otherwise, will put the money in their savings account for a day further into the recession. Two days and the money wasn't even burning a hole in my pocket.
Never fear, I've decided what to spend the money on. At least two-thirds of it. Tonight I purchased a book. Not any book, a seriously important and sought after book. As I've been rediscovering my favorite poet over the last few days, I spotted a business card in one of his books that was sitting on my shelf. A homegrown, used bookseller in Syracuse, New York. So, I signed into my account with Books End in Syracuse and ordered a signed copy of Philip Booth's Weathers and Edges. I got a steal of deal on this book and in my head I rationalized it as 1) an early birthday present to me--birthday is next week, and, 2) supporting a little-known book seller over a big chain.

So, I have about $250 left over. Obviously I didn't heed the advice of our great, wise government in spending all of my money in one place. However, I plan on spending another $150 whenever I get in the mood to take the GRE again.

It is really too bad that we can't all spend these economic stimulus checks to actually stimulate the economy. Most of us aren't in a position to go on a spending spree, not that these checks could even put a dent in the downhill slide that is the U.S. economy right now. Most of us have to think ahead--I'm thinking about PhD programs and what kind of scores I need to get on the GRE to get financial support from one of the schools I apply to. I sure can't afford any of them on my own and since I have been and will continue to be solely responsible for my own education, my GRE scores are highly important.

Whether you plan to spend it all in one place, a few places, or are just going to put your check in the bank for a rainy day, make sure you by yourself a treat! May I suggest a book of poetry?

1 comment :

Jared said...

Ha! This was a fun post about the psychology of a tax rebate. I have mixed feelings about this rebate to begin with. I'm sure I would be more infavor of it if I qualified for one, but since I don't... When you think about it, $150 billion is like a couple of drops of water in bucket when compared to our huge economy. The real question is was it worth the $150 billion in debt (financed by the Chinese, no doubt) the government had to take out to do it? For me the jury is still out. But then again maybe it headed off the economic downturn. We posted net economic growth in the 1st quarter, however so small, unemployment dropped back from 5.1% to 5%, the dollar--worhtless as it is--is making gains, and the markets are trending up. Which brings me back to psychology of all of this. Just simply the act of passing the rebate, before the money gets to the people, might have helped remedy how people feel about the economy. Technecally we never had 2 quarters of negative economic growth to be considered a recession in the strictess sense of the word, but that doesn't mean that a lot of people aren't suffering economically. My hope is that when those checks start rolling out in mass that people use it to pay their mortages and other debts (especially credit card debt). We have a serious debt crisis in this country. And I find it grossly hypocrytic when this consumer-crazy nation of ours points fingers at those in Washington for spending like crazy when they themselves are up to their eyballs in debt because they built a 5,000ft2 house and bought two Escalades on time. The government's fiscal irresponsibility is reflective of the way we and our neighbors live.