What Are You Doing with Your Stimulus Check?

Stimulus_check Lifehacker has a poll asking people "What Are You Doing with Your Stimulus Check?"

Over 60% said they are either saving it all, or using it to pay down bills/debt:

Spending on essentials.   5.6%
Frivolous shopping spree! 12.6%
Saving it all.  23.8%
Paying bills or debt.  37.0%
A little of everything.   21.0%

Two caveats to this: As we have seen in so many surveys, what people say they plan on doing, and then what they actually do, are often  two very different things.

Secondly, we don’t know the demographics of Lifehacker readers — geeks? middle class? higher educated? — and they might skew differently than the nation as a whole.

Regardless, its an interesting data set.


See also: My check? It’s going to pay off bills   

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. mattbg commented on May 16

    “Paying bills or debt” is another strange one.

    If I have $1000 in my bank account and $400 in debt to be paid, I may use the stimulus check to pay the $400 in debt and spend the other $600 on something else… so, technically, I used it to pay bills, but I really just threw it into the general revenue that I use to pay bills and do many other things. I could just have easily have used $400 of the $600 to pay the bills and spend the rest on something else. Perspective.

  2. dblwyo commented on May 16

    A reasonable distribution and about what most of us probably expected. As most of your readers know this cycle didn’t achieve organic, self-sustaining growth. Rather it was held up by the home equity ATM all of which is fading away. Let’s put it in context – beginning early in ’01 MEW was running close to and over $200B/quarter and ran for several years around a $400-450B average (by eyeball). In light of a weak economy since ’01 pumped up by $T’s in MEW what’s $150B in stimulus ? Not much at all. For anybody interested in digging deeper the Northern Trust team has their latest economic outlook up on their web site. VERY highly recommended for anybody who thinks the storm is over instead of just beginning:

  3. Vermont Trader commented on May 16

    I’ll put it in my kid’s 529 plans.

    They are the ones who will have to pay it back it someday afterall.

    The economic stimulus represents everything that’s wrong with this country.

    Baby boomers selling their own children down the river so they can go to Chili’s one more time.

  4. cinefoz commented on May 16

    BR said:

    Two caveats to this: As we have seen in so many surveys, what people say they plan on doing, and then what they actually do, are often two very different things.

    reply: Busted. I last told you I needed to keep up with my stories about lesbian transvestite midgets and their pimps on Jerry Springer and was going to buy a new TV (television) to make it a better experience. I was only kidding about that. My old TV (television) works just fine.

    I really don’t know yet. It’s kind of like getting a $50 gift card from Best Buy. You’re happy to have it but you can’t do much with it. I’ll probably just piss it away.

  5. Ha! commented on May 16

    Contribute to the Obama campaign.

  6. Jay commented on May 16

    Turns out, it seems, that I won’t get a stimulus check to do anything with. According to a May 12th update to the IRS’ FAQ on the topic, pension and annuity amounts provided by state, federal, or private sector employers are not “qualified income”. Since that and schedule B and D income are all I had in 2007 to total about $63K AGI, I get nothing. Guess I don’t meet that $3,000 in qualifying income criteria. So someone with $75K in income gets a check and I don’t. Guess you have to have “government approved” income to qualify. Or am I rich? Obviously, I’m undeserving. Well, come the revolution MF, . . .

  7. wunsacon commented on May 16

    Like mattbg said, money is fungible. This money will slosh around and probably be spent just the way people spend the rest of their money.

  8. Bob A commented on May 16

    I’m doin a discount version of the Spitzer thing with mine…

  9. bdg123 commented on May 16

    Easy prediction. I wrote the day after these clowns came up with this idea that it would have no economic multiplier because the velocity of money had ground to a halt.

    This is a complete waste of money. They’d be better off pissing it down a hole. Targeted assistance to those in economic crisis would be better served. Or, some type of plan to keep people with children from living on the street with a targeted mortgage reswindling proposal.

  10. ArmchairFed commented on May 16

    FURBIES!!! You can never have too many.

    Thanks, Uncle Sam!

  11. xfire commented on May 16

    There should be another choice and is should be “I don’t get one” .

  12. ArmchairFed commented on May 16

    All furbies aside though, a more formative question: if everyone in America had $600 to spend, what could you do with it that would stimulate our micro and macro economies? Would it be products that change the most hands between producer and consumer? Or perhaps a value-added service? I’d love to see discussion on possible answers to this…

  13. Observer commented on May 16

    Barry, any truth to the rumor, which sounds plausible to me, that there is a SECOND stimulus package being put together? This one, my friends in D.C. tell me, will be mailed out by the Federal Reserve Board, and Bernanke has spearheaded it. It literally consists of a little package of stimulants, like amphetamine, and some anti-depressants like Zoloft as well. It will be mailed out however, not dropped from a helicopter. Actually I think that this has somewhat more likelihood of working than just racking up greater federal debt by mailing out checks. ; )

  14. taxman commented on May 16

    considering the segment of folks qualifying, sans jay it appears, one could assume much of the proceeds will end-up in gas tanks, quite a few have not had a full tank of gas in a while. if so, it might appear as unusual demand for mogas (temp blip as inventory moves into car tanks), driving mogas costs even higher in the short-term.

  15. mysterious eggs commented on May 16

    The stimulus is an “elegant”, if not circuitous, way of getting government money into the hands of banks without looking like a no-strings-attached handout. But that’s news from 6 months ago. It has already been priced in. There will be no multiplier effect from this trash. What I want to know is if it will put enough money into the banks where they can stop turning down good loans. Debt overhang?

  16. Dervin commented on May 16

    Is there any difference between how people spend their checks if it’s a direct deposit vs. if they get a check in the mail?

    I think the direct deposit people will just let it mix with their funds, and just let it disappear into general spending.

    The check folks might behave differently.

  17. cinefoz commented on May 16

    Mr eggs said:

    There will be no multiplier effect from this trash.

    Au contrair … the multiplier effect from this massive sum will be equivalent to a cloudburst of food stamps powering across the nation … but these you can spend on liquor and cigarettes without breaking the law.

  18. Steve Barry commented on May 16

    This stimulus check thing is ridiculous…the government took money they would have spent and gave it to the people to spend…either that or they printed up new money for the people to spend. And this is going to help the long term prosperity how?

  19. MarkTX commented on May 16

    Buy Beer and Hard Liquor,

    and then I’ll piss it away! ;)

  20. Scott Nolan commented on May 16

    Investing in European and Asian stocks. Must keep it out of the American economy to prove the smirking chimp is wrong.

  21. bsneath commented on May 16

    I encourage everyone to go back and reread the second post by dblwyo. We are in for a major rebalancing of the economy. Even IF we achieve full employment again, it will be without the benefit of MEW for disposable income purposes. The stimulis package is good because it buys a little time for adjustments to occur. It obviously will not be enough though. We have to accept that we will have lower standards of living and will need to export much more and import much less – that means a lower dollar is in the cards. Fortunately we will be exporting a fair amount of our recession abroad since most consumer goods are imported and many construction workers were immigrants who will return to their homelands now that they can no longer find work. Unfortunately, we import 2/3rds of our oil needs and we have an economy and society that has been built around cheap energy prices. Unless you live in an energy rich or farm belt State, or work for an export firm (and didn’t fall into the over-mortgage trap), times are going to be rough.

  22. Unsympathetic commented on May 16

    I spent $650 yesterday on 4 new Goodyear TripleTred tires. And that’s as cheap as you’ll find for tire + installation/disposal + blowout guarantee. Yes, it was essential – when you’re using out the wear indicator, it’s time to find some cash.

    Stimulus? Who’s getting stimulated other than the post office?

  23. Mr. Obvious commented on May 16

    Unsympathetic…I got you beat…spent over $1K on 4 new run-flats for a 2004 Toyota Sienna. Friggin minivan eats tires like I eat Tums.

    So the Bush Admin should be pleased that I spent the check on a tangible item.

  24. michael schumacher commented on May 16

    damn you guys are paying way too much on tires….

    Goodyear’s are supremely overrated…….and way too soft for today’s beat up roads. Switch to a harder compound (and you’ll get better MPG as well)


  25. cinefoz commented on May 16

    Unsympathetic, Mr Obvious

    Not being smartass for a moment, I understand where you are coming from. Economically speaking, you are just using this windfall to buy necessities you would otherwise have bought. Mr Paulson believes your contribution to the economy will bring it into robustness later this year. I’m glad he feels the rising and uncontrolled costs of oil and other energy and food products are not going to be a problem later on.

    Thank you for your support.

    Usually, when I get a $50 Best Buy gift card (speaking in analogies) I usually buy a water filter for my refrigerator. That bastard costs almost $50 and I hate spending real money on it.

  26. mark commented on May 16

    I think these checks are going to play out exactly as the gift cards did at Christmas… everyone expected the cards to go to high-margin items like electronics, but instead they went to food, consumables, etc. These checks are going to go into stomachs and gas tanks.

  27. Joe commented on May 16

    I’m saving mine for the $4.29 and climbing /gallon oil I will have to pay this winter. It is alot easier to cut down on driving than to cut down on heating your house. Especially those who locked in last year, are in for a big shock this coming winter.

  28. grumpyoldvet commented on May 16

    take my grandkids to a couple of NJ Somerset Patriots baseball games. Gotta do my part to keep the economy going..

  29. kpj commented on May 16

    I’m buying lottery tickets and forever stamps.

  30. Douglas Watts commented on May 16

    Ask not what your stimulus check can do for you, ask what your stimulus check can do for your country !!!

    Hmm …. Still needs some work.

  31. Mich(^IXIC1881) commented on May 16

    I added some on top and got a 42″ panny viera…I did my part to keep America rolling…which brings me to my question: where is my check?? I thought they would deposit it to my bank since i filed my taxes electronically, but received nothing so far.

  32. Mich(^IXIC1881) commented on May 16

    I’m doin a discount version of the Spitzer thing with mine…
    Posted by: Bob A | May 16, 2008 1:28:18 PM

    Ask not what your stimulus check can do for you, ask what your stimulus check can do for your country !!! Hmm …. Still needs some work.
    Posted by: Douglas Watts | May 16, 2008 7:01:14 PM

    Merging the two:
    Ask not what your country can do stimulate you, ask what you can do to stimulate your country !!!

  33. Mich(^IXIC1881) commented on May 16

    a “to” is omitted there somewhere in the first sentence…Mr. blog owner/dictator, where is my “edit” button?

  34. bruce commented on May 16

    Might take the wife to Victoria’s Secret…after all it is a “stimulus check”………

  35. Douglas Watts commented on May 17

    All of this jollity proves the DOW will stimulate itself to 15,000 by Monday.

    Call it a “stimulus check.”

  36. Greg0658 commented on May 17

    All of this jollity …

    There is a happy mood still. Ball games & car races have crowds; people mill around morning tv sets with smiles; go to fairs and watch frogs jump; households have tv and internet.

    I just want it to stay that way; so I push for evolution before revolution. Please excuse this messenger. This stuff I spew; I hope its not a case of loose lips.

    I should make a video (if it weren’t pirating) to Paul Simons (song?) at 2001 Grammys lryics go “When I see it from the other side its a completely different song; and I’m the one who made you cry and I’m the one who’s wrong”

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