How We Spent Our Economic Stimulus Check

economic stimulus checkOver the last several weeks I’ve shared our plans to spend the economic stimulus check. Initially, we planned to divide the $1,800 three ways, saving some, spending some, and using the remaining amount to pay down debt. Then we leaned towards just putting it all in our emergency fund. In the end, we decided to scrap both plans. When I opened the mailbox last week and finally saw that check had arrived I made an impulsive decision, but not the kind I would have made ten years ago.

Debt Repayment is a Natural High

People who are clinically addicted to shopping often report a “natural high” experienced when they purchase something. The feeling is usually followed by post-purchase guilt over the expenditure, and is only remedied after buying something else. Well, I’m now addicted to the euphoric feelings produced by paying off debt. I took that $1,800 rebate check, drove right past Best Buy and Target, and immediately deposited it in the bank. The next morning I confirmed it had posted to our account and scheduled an online payment to my credit card in the amount of $1,800. And so after weeks of waiting for the check to arrive it was gone in a matter of hours.

Do I Regret the Decision to Pay Down Debt?

Not one bit. If I had used the stimulus check to buy a new sofa (something we do need), a 42″ plasma television (something we don’t need, but sure would be nice for football season!), or some other material purchase I would probably be writing a different article about buyer’s remorse and the dangers of impulse spending. However, I resisted the urge to spend the tax rebate check on such items, and was excited to see that credit card balance drop by $1,800 overnight.

It All Boils Down to Contentment

We are fairly content with our current possessions, and I would have to think long and hard to come up with something that I really want, or need, that I don’t already have. Sure, my vehicle is seventeen years-old, and the leg on our sofa is broken, and my computer was purchased around the turn of the century, but all those things still serve me well. The truck still runs, I repaired the sofa leg myself, and I’ve made some small upgrades to the computer to extend its useful life. No sense in replacing these things just for the sake of getting something new. So when that stimulus check arrived it was a relatively easy decision to simply drop it on our remaining credit card debt.

photo by: Daquella manera

How do you planย to spend (or how did you spend) your economic stimulus check?


  1. Good for you!! I just got word that mine is coming next week and plan on using it the same way!

  2. I really enjoyed your post! We’re working toward financial freedom in our family as well and can’t wait to be debt free!

    We got $1500 worth of stimulation in our bank account over a month ago. We were going to use it all to put toward paying off our last credit card. Instead, we used $500 of it to take our family on vacation, another $200 to buy a few discretionary items that we wouldn’t normally buy with our beans and rice budget, and then the rest will go toward that credit card. We had the time of our lives on a 4 day, 2 night vacation for the cost of what a lot of people would have spent on the hotel alone. It was still a splurge but it was just what we needed to give us a little reprieve from all the hard work we’ve been doing to pay off debt.

  3. Good for you. We haven’t received ours yet and won’t until the very last week. I’m still undecided as well. We did have to buy a dining set — could not find one that worked that was used — and so I’m thinking we’ll pay that off for sure but that’s only $700. I think we’ll pack the rest away in savings.

    But, first, we might have to splurge and buy a grill. We haven’t had one in two years and I think it will save electricity this summer, at least.

    Then again, we have another two weeks or so …

  4. Congrats!!! We did the same with ours. As soon as it hit our bank account, I scheduled it to pay down some debt. I doubt the bank even noticed it was there.

  5. I put mine directly into my Emergency Fund! Actually, I didnt have an emergency fund and I used my $600 to kickstart one. At the same time, I arranged for automatic deposits of $50 from my checking account to go to the Account as well. So, yay! I feel good about having one.

    Congrats to you . . . buyers remorse/guilt sucks. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. We paid off all our debt a couple of years ago and already have a 6 month emegency fund so we split it in half and spent it. IKEA got most of my wife’s half. I blew some on thoose self watering pots and lots of veggie start. I threw the rest in the bank till something catches my eye. My kids are lobbying for fruit trees!!

  7. Great choice. We used our to pay off that blasted credit card. Hello FREEDOM!

    Next on the list: braces, then car loan, then student loans, then the mortgage. At that point, I think life will take on a whole new flavor. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I immediately used the $600 I received to pay down debt, and that was just before leaving on vacation.

  9. Like many others here, we used ours to help build up our emergency fund. It is good to see so many people being so responsible with this windfall.

    I specifically like the comment left by Bill. This is an excellent example of how much freedom there is once you are debt-free with a 3 to 6 month emergency fund. Way to go Bill! I’m just now getting to Bill’s place in life so I’m encouraged by his comment.

  10. I put mine away for my portion of the closing costs for the house we are buying next month. If I hadn’t needed it for that I would have used fund my emergency fund.

  11. It’s all about changes in attitude, isn’t it? Ours is going to pay for a long-awaited vacation to visit family. But we keep saying, “Oh, that’s a lot of money to blow on airfare … I wish we could just smack it onto a student loan or pay off the car FIVE MONTHS sooner!” I’m sure we’ll enjoy it once we get there, but five months of car payments feels more exciting than five hours of plane travel.

  12. Emergency fund here.

    Plus the fact that I (my wife rather) just had a baby recently the emergency fund helped cover unexpected expenses.

  13. Because we rent and are planning to move in september, we will be giving the whole check to the rental office. It is our biggest bill for the month and it will be nice to not have to worry about it for the rest of our lease. We have 50% saved of the money we will need to move so we will build that up with the rent money we would have used. I think DH would have enjoyed getting a Wii but tough turkey! lol

  14. Well, I’m not quite to the emergency fund stage yet, so I used mine to pay off debt. I moved across the country for a job and had to borrow $1500 from my Aunt to do it. Guess who my $1500 stimulus check paid off?

  15. We got our $1500 a couple months ago (direct deposit!) and stuck it in our ING account for the new $8,500 Roof we have to put on this summer (it’s a couple years past due).

    We’d been setting aside money each month to save up for it, and any money that came along the way. So the prebate was helpful in saving up the full amount. We’re debt-free except the house and want to keep it that way. No home equity loans for this project. We’re doing it the old-fashioned way… save up and pay for it.

    It’s difficult because we think about how awesome of a vacation we could take for $8,500, but instead we’ll be looking at our new roof….

  16. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the whole point of the stimulus check to put money back into the economy by spending it on new purchases?

  17. @Rita: Yes, it was. However, I know better than the government how to spend my own money, so I plopped this down on personal debt. After all, I am merely paying off past attempts to stimulate the economy!

  18. You are correct, Rita. The intent behind the stimulus check was that consumers would “consume” and thus spur on “the economy.”

    But for a lot of people that doesn’t make logical sense to them in their own personal finance situations. And why should we let the government tell us what to do with our money? (And it is our money, they just took it away with taxes in the first place).

    A lot of people are beginning to realize (like many on this blog) that they have already consumed too much in the past…. which has led to unpaid credit card debt. They have “spurred the economy” in the past, and are now paying for it.

    I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that spent it right away, though. And some that spent it 2 or 3 times in anticipation of receiving it. And some that paid down credit cards, and then turned around and maxed their credit cards back out.

    I stumbled across a website the other day where people could post what they did with their rebate. (I think off of MSN). Most of those people were posting what they purchased or where they went on vacation. Several complained about spending it all on gas. But don’t worry too much about us frugal-heads not spurring the economy. There is enough non-weird people out there to keep it afloat.

  19. I STILL haven’t received mine but I did get a letter on Monday saying I should get it around June 27th. I would love to blow it all but I will be responsible and slit it 50/50 between my Emergency Fund and my Flexible Savings Account.

  20. The people who say, “You only live once. Stop depriving yourself and enjoy money for what it’s worth!” seriously underestimate the amount of satisfaction that being smart and responsible can bring. We saved the whole thing, with a small exception for a couple of ceiling fans. (Dropped the AC bill nearly 100 percent. Yay!)

    I bet you slept well after depositing that money. Better than you would with a new sofa, at least.

  21. Before our check came my husband and I talked about what to do with the $1200… How did we decide – we asked ourselves “What is our priority?” Our priority is to pay off our debt (credit cards and student loans) and we saw this money as an opportunity to ‘get ahead’. We gladly paid off our credit card and continue to make our financial decisions by asking ourselves that question.

  22. We split ours, I think he put his in his savings and I made extra car payments…can’t wait to have that paid off and hey, it was 2 extra payments!

  23. Good for you!! We took our 1800 check and 1000 of our savings and payed off our Lowes card. Saves us 100 a month payment and reduces our debt by 2800. Good luck and hard work to all!!

  24. I got that same notice that says it should be here June 27th….when I see it, I’ll believe it ๐Ÿ™‚ And then, it all goes into my investment retirement account… By retirement time it will have more than doubled!

  25. We used $1000 of our $1200 straight into our car loan plus the normal monthly payment. It was great to pay some of it down and keep interest from accumulating on some of it!

  26. It seemed we put ours straight to bills also – which is nice to pay it off, but kind of a bummer that you’re getting this “extra money to spend” but don’t really have it to spend on anything “extra”.

  27. I received a notice in the mail today that I should receive my check in the next few days. I’ll get the $600 payment and also plan to put it toward paying off my credit card debt. Every little bit counts, right?

  28. I tend to take the same line of thought by making do with what I already have. I much prefer to reuse and recycle instead of constantly buying new items. It’s better for the pocketbook, the environment, and my state of mind. Too much clutter gets to me!

    Thanks for the mention. ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. My boyfriend are living as married (together 6 years this weekend) – We share finances.

    Is this a sad comment on our country or what, but – My $600 paid off one of his doctor’s bills – He has a $1,000 deductible!

    His went to our bills, and some into our saving.

  30. We got ours quite a while ago and it went directly toward buying a new computer for my business. It is an investment that started paying me back immediately because I work a lot faster on my new machine and take on more income-producing work!

  31. Well, I promised hubby could have $300 of our $1200. Then we are buying a special photo package of our “babies” (yes, we are that nuts). The rest will go to our various savings accounts including emergency, vacation, gifts, and future home/land.

  32. We used it to complete the $7000 that we needed to be able to pay both of our kids’ private school tuition in one payment and receive a 5% discount. For us, the quality of private school is not a luxury but a necessity due to the state of the public schools in our area. We also will not have a monthly tuition payment which will free up money from the monthly income to pay down debt.

    Congratulations on making an $1800 payment to your credit card!

  33. Our check is for $1500 and will arrive sometime next week, according to the letter I received. I made one plan for it the moment I heard about it, and I’m sticking to my guns… the entire check is going to be split three ways and go into my three kids 529 college savings plans (so it will be spent, just not for another six to ten years, and hopefully there will be some compound interest, returns and distributions to go with that ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

  34. I’m a singleton with no kids, so my check (which arrived yesterday!) was only $600. I really wanted to send the whole thing to my debts but it went straight into my savings account, earmarked for several medical expenses I know are coming down the pike. (Stupid MRIs… grr…)

    My brother and his wife used their money to buy a new digital camera, which I am dying to have but do not need. I know I’m doing the right thing for my situation, but some days it stinks to be “responsible.” sigh. [/end pity party] ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. My husband and I got $600 – and we had planned to save it for emergencies – which is right where it went! Our car ended up dying, so we were forced to buy a new (not brand new) car and the $600 covered the taxes, tag and title.