The checks aren't in the mail yet, but plenty of Americans already seem to know what they would do with the rebates proposed by Congress and the White House. Under the economic stimulus plan announced yesterday, most tax filers would receive refunds of $600 to $1,200, and more if they have children. Those who make too little to pay income taxes would receive a check for at least $300 as long as they earned at least $3,000 last year.
Lawmakers hope the rebates will encourage consumer spending, but many responded to an informal ABCNEWS.com poll to say they intend to sock their cash away into savings. Many others, however, aren't shy about spending their expected green on things like bills, groceries, clothing, vacations and, in one case, a kitchen sink. Below, an unscientific sampling from our online audience."
Dawn Ketcham of Fergus Falls, Minn. "An extra few hundred dollars will definitely come in handy. ... I will be spending some on summer clothes for my son, since I think he outgrew every article of clothing from last summer. New school clothes will be on the to-buy list as well. As far as fun things go, we have a big family camping trip planned for late this summer, so that's most likely where the rest will get spent."
Raquel Sanchez of Pacoima, Calif. "I would buy some food and shoes for my son. I'm a 53-year-old single mom having to pay for a class after my financial aid ran out and can't start my master's program till I pay it. I would also make a payment on my car before it gets repossessed again."
Charles W. Yagel, of Branford, Fla. "I guess I'll fill the gas tank on my car and get a dinner at McDonald's with the change. Do you think that will boost the economy?"
Matt Van Every of Oklahoma City, Okla. "I plan on buying a new HDTV. I could use the money on many larger priorities and to pay debts. However, I feel that the government intention with this money is to help the economy by having people buy stuff. For that reason, I will spend it how the government intended for me to spend it ... on a luxury item."
Stephen Madaio of Sutton, Mass. "I will NOT buy, buy, buy. I will pay bills, bills, bills!"
Diane Andree of San Jose, Calif. "A few hundred dollars isn't much these days. It costs me $150 a month just for gas, and I carpool with my daughter, so that's probably as far as it's going to go ... or I could buy a month's worth of gas and a month's worth of groceries. That really puts these hard times into perspective, doesn't it ? For my mom, it wouldn't even cover one month of medications for her."
CPT and Mrs. Joanna Taczanowsky of Fort Irwin, Calif. "My husband and I would put our money toward my college loans, our two car payments and any other debt I went into while my husband he deployed. I can't think of anyone on our post who is going to use the money to go buy some frivolous thing because everyone here is in debt!! Thanks for the couple hundred bucks, Mr. Bush, but we'd much rather you get us out of Iraq so we can see our husbands for more than a few months this decade."
Phyllis McAmis of Cleveland, Tenn. "Use it for vacation -- probably to Pensacola Beach, Florida. I know I should save it, but getting a vacation is very important to me. I have relatives there who will come and spend time with us at the beach. That is a good thing too."
Bonny Million of Norman, Okla. "I would love to 'splurge' on something I want -- like a new kitchen sink. I'm a new homeowner who is slowly remodeling and on a tight budget. Fortunately, I have the ability to do 99 percent of the work myself. But I now have a couple unsecured bank loans due to emergencies this past year with an awfully high 19 percent interest. I'm only $6,000 in debt aside from my $126,900 home and auto payment. But that's high for me! My pay check barely covers my obligations and basics ... so my goal at the moment is to pay them down and get rid of them. Until I do, my remodeling (finishing kitchen) is on hold."
Barbara Ward of Houston, Texas "I would deposit it into a savings plan or contribute toward my retirement. I have spent foolishly in the decades before and found that styles really never change. Saving for anyone no matter how poor would be to an advantage."
Pam Husk of Lee's Summit, Mo. "I was part of a big layoff in June 2007 and have been unable to find a new job. The economy is horrible and the job market is flooded with people in my same position. It's really sad to have been living a modest lifestyle with an annual salary of $65,000 a year, 401K, retirement, health and dental insurance and vacation and sick leave benefits, and to now be without anything. I had been with this company for almost 20 years. I've applied for every job imaginable and am willing to work for less. I'm a very capable person and don't understand why I can't find work. I guess there are just too many people in the same situation. If this refund does come through, it will have to be used for basic living expenses."
Andrew Aceves of Farmington, Mo. "I don't need the extra money right now. But it's only a matter of time before the economic slowdown eats my job too. So I'm saving every penny I can get my hands on for when it happens to me."
Holly McGowen Bacon of Douglasville Ga. "My husband and I just stimulated the economy by buying an $18,000 new car that we had not planned to buy -- we put $5,000 down of which $3,000 went on my "zero" interest credit card. Any money we would receive would be to pay off debt from this purchase."
Barbara Costabile of Racine, Wis. "Being a middle-class woman who is the main support of my family, I find it disturbing to hear that some in Congress would consider sending out smaller checks so they could add money to already funded programs like food stamps, etc. I need help buying groceries probably more than the people that are low income. They are eligible for those programs! Because I am middle class, I do not qualify for programs. I owe taxes each year and struggle to pay them while the poor get tax credits, food stamps, free health care ... all for not working or for working low income jobs. "I would use the money to pay off some bills but I would also buy a few things on my wish list ... like a new sofa or TV seeing both are about 20 years old! "The people who work hard for a living every day no matter what are the people who need and deserve this money and will spend this money on the economy! Help the middle class ... they are the forgotten class."
Bromley Baril of Dover, N.H. "I live in New England where oil prices are outrageous. I would fill my oil tank, at the cost of about $900, and save the rest to offset any potential crisis. We live paycheck to paycheck here, and having even $500 in the bank against an emergency is a bonus."
Kathie Goetsch of Le Claire, Iowa "This is an easy choice for us. My husband and I were in complete agreement to put this windfall (if it happens) toward reducing our personal debt. Sure, it would be nice to have a big screen TV, or a new computer, but the ones we have are still working very well, so why go blow money just because it's an unplanned windfall? We'd rather pay a bill and improve our personal situation ... just in case things get worse before they get better!"
Katie Neel of Griffin, Ga. "I cannot express what a rebate check would mean for me. It would be an answer to my prayers. I would be able to buy groceries, which I can't afford right now. I would be able to help my son pay for night classes at a local college. I just started a new job, and I have a very, very limited wardrobe with no money to expand it. With the rebate, I could buy a couple of versatile pieces that would make me feel better about going to work every day. There are so many ways that a rebate check would help. Too many to mention."
Kara Patterson of Lexington, Ky. "I would do my part for the economy and spend it the way it is supposed to be spent. Bush wants us out of a recession, and spending money is a good fix. I would literally go out and buy something for myself or others. If I got the check tomorrow, I would most likely go buy a new TV. Saving it would not be in any way using the money the way they are asking us to."
Gerald Stewart of Chicago, Ill. "First, 10 percent would go to my church. Then I'd save another 5 percent and from there pay some bills and take my wife out for a nice weekend."
Virginia Pickel of Hudson, Mass. "I've been waiting very patiently for years for the Boston-area housing market to cool off, and foreclosures to have an impact, so things are right on cue for me in 2008. I'll use this to help buy real estate this year, either the property itself (closing costs, etc.) or things that go in like a new appliance, fixtures (fans, doors, etc.) or other necessities. Not planning to bank the rebate when there will probably be many good 'here and now' deals to be had. Wish me luck!"