by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
May 6, 2008
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- What do we do? Stimulate the economy or feather our own nests? The President's "stimulus package," already showing up in people's bank accounts in the form f $600 and $1,200 checks, is a real thing. If we didn't think it would happen, or if we were suspicious of it, we now know it's the real deal. Money showed up in my account that I didn't put there.
I had nothing to sign, nothing to request or explain, no endorsement, no qualifications or explanations necessary. I now have $600 that I didn't ask for or expect. The only requirement of me is that I spend it - and even that's on the honor system.
The purpose is to stimulate the economy. I can do that. I've asked others their plans and can report that they "get it." The economy does need a boost and since the handwriting's been on the wall for some time now, many of those I queried intend to outfit their homes with energy-saving devices - from shower heads that provide a reduced flow while not sacrificing the amount of water needed to wash away the suds, to switching from incandescent light bulbs to small fluorescent bulbs, thereby reducing power needed and lowering the utility bills as well.
Some people want to pay down credit card debt; others will take a family vacation and spread the money around in distant and exotic places. I found that people are scrupulous about spending the money here in America. If they buy tickets for overseas travel, they will choose an American airline. "It's only fair," they say. Bravo! I say.
Many people can't decide what they will do. They feel vacationing or a flat-screen television would normally be outside their budget, and they feel guilty just blowing the money on things they don't really need. One woman decided to take her $600 to AAA and purchase a $600 debit card, good at any gas station. She didn't want to be limited to one major oil company's location.
Another wise shopper said he'd just put his check in his bank account and spend his money the way he always does - judiciously.
More than one of those I asked were still questioning the government's motives - not that they don't want the money. One woman said, "Stimulus Package? Is that what they call that government check I just received?"
One man said, "I could have used it 25 years ago when $600 meant $600 - not just 12 fill-ups in the tank of a compact car." He added, "One thing about gasoline, you can't hoard it the way you can hoard toilet paper. Remember that? When was it, the early eighties? The shelves were empty and we drove around like crazy looking for one 4-pack of Charmin." Laughter all around at those memories.
A woman in the group who hadn't spoken yet said, "I want to save it. I want to open a separate account in another bank and save a little here and a little there, add to it each week until I've matched the government windfall, and then double that. By then, I'll know what to do with it and I'll have almost triple the amount to do it with."
"That's not such a good idea," her husband said. "You won't get anything in the bank but a money market account would accrue interest, or a safe stock could double your money." "No, no," she said, "this is almost secret, something I don't have to check on each week, something that will grow without my even noticing it." Her husband shrugged knowingly to the men around when he said: "Women!"
So, there we have it. There are probably as many answers as there are ways to spend the money. One thing for certain, it is ours to spend. And, I made it abundantly clear in our house: we may file joint returns and we may be living happily ever after, but this money is his and mine. I can secretly stimulate the economy in ways he would never dream. Of course, all my husband has to do is look at me to know I have some delicious plans for my money, my no-strings-attached money. I have a faraway look in my eyes as I stare out into the middle of the room. I'm rubbing my hands together in that time-honored expression of sheer glee and he's saying, "What? what? What are you thinking of?"
Actually, I don't know yet, but it will be great, it will be honorable, and the future's looking good.