I'm not convinced of the wisdom behind the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008. Maybe I'm just bothered by the name. The Buy Some More Unnecessary Stuff Act of 2008 seems more fitting.
Call me simple, but it seems to me like a government that's in debt up to its E Pluribus Unum can ill-afford to give back part of its paycheck, particularly when it's cutting back on government programs like education and environmental protection because it, well, can't afford them. And I'm also not so sure that giving Americans some more cash so that they can run out and buy some more crap is really in the best interest of either our nation or, more directly, our pursuit of happiness.
How will you spend your tax rebates?
But my doubts aside, the government money is raining down: $300 or more for those who didn't pay taxes last year, $600 for single taxpayers and $1,200 or more for us "joint filers." (Why do I always get flashbacks of that 1976 Bachman Turner Overdrive concert whenever I check that box on my IRS Form 1040?) It may take longer for some checks to hit your mailbox than others, but they're on their way -- In God We Trust.
The smart money says just deposit your check and write another check right back to the IRS. Get a head start on what you'll owe in taxes this year, which - if not this year, then some year soon - is likely to be even more, since of course they decided to give back part of their allowance this year. Using it to pay off some of your debts is OK too, but that's exactly what they DON'T want you to do.
But if you're inclined to be a good American and spend your stimulus windfall, then here are my Top 3 Eco Friendly Investments (as in both eco-logical and eco-nomical) for your tax check:
#3 Buy a bicycle and use it for local errands and commuting (Cost: Probably your whole tax check or more for a quality new steed, but keep an eye open at the thrift store for a classic Raleigh or similar '70's era 10-speed in the under $50 range - well worth the cost of repair.)
#2 Plant some trees in your yard (Cost: You can get a lot of green for the amount of your tax check, particularly if you shop at the end of the gardening season when everything's marked down and it's still a perfect time to plant. Improve air and water quality, save energy, and increase the value of your home -- plant a tree.)
#1 Increase the insulation in your house (Cost: Sink every penny you can free up into insulating your home and making it more energy efficient; between lower heating/cooling costs and increased resale value, it's usually a lead-pipe cinch.)
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