Many consumers spend early rebates on soaring cost of living

Future allowance money for Patrick also will go into the account.

"He's a saver," Murray said of his son. "He will get money and it will sit around six or eight months and he'll save up and get something substantial."

Murray and his wife, Angie, 49, both are pursuing additional college degrees for themselves. They banked the rest of their economic stimulus check, worth $1,200, with the expectation that some will go for their tuition.

He said he wasn't going out of his way to specifically spend the rebate money, but "I'm sure that it'll be useful."

For Mark and Toni Quero of Northfield, Vt., the rebates — $1,200 total — went straight into the bank, to be saved for home heating oil and replacing a picture window in their home to make it more efficient.

Quero and her husband earn about $44,000 a year between his job as a maintenance man at Norwich University and her Social Security disability checks.

They debated using the money for a vacation but decided instead to use it on heating oil for their three-bedroom ranch house, which they share with their 28-year-old daughter.

So they're holding $1,000 for oil and $200 for the picture window replacement. The couple spent $800 on heating oil last winter, up from $600 the year before, and they expect it'll be higher this year.

"Mark said 'Maybe we'll take part of it and go on a nice vacation,"' said Toni Quero, 59. "Then we said 'That's silly. We'll regret it because we'll wish we'd saved it for fuel."'

Another saver, Miami native Gani Rodriguez, 24, received her tax rebate check May 9 and immediately deposited it into her savings account. She and her boyfriend have been squirreling money away for the last year and a half to buy a house together.

"We're already shopping for rings," said Rodriguez, a purchasing agent at an interior design firm. "So if all goes well, we'll do it at the same time — the house and the marriage."

Asked if she felt any responsibility to spend the money to help jump-start the economy, Rodriguez demurred.

"It's our money. I can do with it what I want," she said. "It could help to spend it, but I don't think anything big is going to change as far as (my spending for) food and gas. This is really chump change."

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