It's a question that can reveal hidden financial desires: How would you spend your economic stimulus rebate check, now expected to be $600 for individual taxpayers and $1,200 for married couples without children?
Personally, I would like to devote it to either updating my wardrobe or getting a cappuccino machine—but in reality it should probably go into my future down payment fund. To get you in the mood to spend your own rebate, which, pending congressional approval and the president's signature, could be in your mailbox by summer, here are what personal finance and consumer experts plan to do with their checks:
New home appliances. "First, I would need to talk with my husband and come to an agreement, but there are three appliances—the dishwasher, washer, and dryer—at home that will need to be replaced. He's very good at trying to repair them, but I'm sure one is close to the end."
—Faye Griffiths-Smith, community leader for the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences New shoes and big tips. "As a consumer expert, I know that the best thing for our country would be to get that money back into the economy, and so I suppose I'd have to force myself to buy some new shoes! Also, having worked as a waitress when I was in college, one of my favorite things to do with extra money is to leave super-huge tips. I think my husband would want to upgrade our television.
—Kit Yarrow, consumer psychologist A wedding. "I'm getting married in September, so I'm likely going to spend my rebate on hydrangeas and half of a deejay.... If I wasn't planning to hemorrhage money this year, I'd likely sock it away for retirement. Can you think of anything more fleeting than cut flowers and some guy in a tux playing the chicken dance? Well, it can't be said that I'm not doing my part for the economy!"
—Alison Preszler, spokeswoman, Better Business Bureau New furniture. "I will spend a portion of my rebate check on bedroom furniture for our new home, and admittedly, the rest will go into savings."
—Amanda Gleason, Young and Broke blogger. Retirement. "At my age, if I were to receive a tax stimulus check in my mailbox this spring, I'd sock it away for retirement. This may not seem like a very exciting use of the money, particularly to young adults, but I'm to the point in life where knowing I'm prepared for retirement actually brings me more joy than a flat-screen TV."
—Gail Cunningham, National Foundation for Credit Counseling, which recommends using the money to pay down debt, build a rainy day fund, and make needed house repairs, among other suggestions College tuition. "If I receive a rebate, I would put it in accounts set up to meet my long-term goals. In my house, these include retirement and saving for college tuition, since I have two children."
—Lynne Strang, spokeswoman for the American Financial Services Association • Readers, if the tax refund comes through, how will you spend it? Do you plan on splurging or saving?