(If I get one. The chickens aren’t hatched yet.) That’s what I did with the $300 check I received in 2001. It wasn’t burning a hole in my pocket at the time.
The $100 billion (give or take a few billion) injection of liquidity — also known as a “stimulus package” — into individuals’ wallets that’s being discussed now is meant to encourage consumption. Money that’s spent stimulates the economy; money that’s saved really doesn’t. That’s why there’s also discussion (no decision has been made as of now) about income caps for the rebates. The thinking here is that lower-income individuals will be more likely to spend the check than save it, since there’s a higher likelihood that they’ll be more strapped than higher-income individuals.
Which is all fine and good, I suppose. Really strapped folks will get good meals for a while, and kinda strapped folks will be able to knock their credit card payments down $10 per month or so, or stay in their homes a month longer, or buy that flat-screen TV they’ve been eyeing. Or whatever. Then it’s gone. Meanwhile, we’ve kicked the national debt ever closer to fourteen figures. We still have a stock market that’s behind where it was at the start of the decade if you adjust for the 20% inflation that’s occurred since then, with more bad news each day. We still have oil hovering around $100 per barrel and gas hovering around $3 per gallon. We still have housing prices dropping and ARM payments resetting upwards.
The checks will be nice, but I don’t really see it solving much. It’s like a bar offering one on the house at last call. Everyone’s happy for another 20 minutes, and then people get to stagger home and wake up the next morning, hung over, to face the stress and the weight of payments that remained in the background while they were forgetting about life for a while.
If you get one, let me offer a suggestion: Assuming you don’t need to spend it on necessities, rather than blow it now, save it and wait for an opportunity to buy something at a crazy discount from someone who really needs to sell it. There will be lots of opportunities for folks who have a little cash on hand to help someone else out of their problems by buying up their assets at fire-sale.