May 6, 2008
Many using rebate checks to buy basic goods and pay debts
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Cortlandville resident Jody Lacey shops at Valu Home Center in the Groton Ave. plaza Monday afternoon. Lacey, who recently purchased a house, will be spending a portion of the rebate check on the new house.
CORTLAND — Truxton resident Beth Snyder and her family plan to spend its $1,500 economic stimulus rebate on heating bills.
The money from the federal government will cover half of Snyder’s $3,000 heating fuel bill for this past winter.
“It helps us pay a bill we have to pay,” Snyder said of the rebate check. “We were going to have to pay it one way or another.”
As the cost of necessities rise and the economy weakens, many like Snyder will use their rebate checks for basic goods, bills and to pay off debt.
About 130 million Americans are receiving the checks through the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008, which is intended to prompt consumer spending and buoy a faltering national economy.
The rebates range up to $600 for an individual and $1,200 for a couple. Families with children will get $300 per child.
The government started making direct bank deposits April 28, and will start sending out paper checks May 9.
Cincinnatus resident Tina Fox, 48, and her husband, Lloyd, 49, will be spending their rebate check on gas and food.
Those costs have just gone out of control, she said. The couple is unsure of how much its check will total.
Fox said she and her husband have changed their driving and shopping habits, shopping only certain days of the week and switching grocery stores.
“We’re going to Aldi’s (in Cortlandville) more for money reasons,” Fox said. “We’re trying to do the best we can.”
Her son, Michael, 19, has decided to buy a motorcycle with his rebate, she said.
“He just got his (motorcycle) permit last week and figures getting a motorcycle will save him money in the long run,” Fox said, noting he will get better gas mileage. “I’m not too crazy about it.”
Area businesses are hoping many residents will spend their checks on their goods and services.
Stafford Chevrolet in Dryden is offering an incentive for people to spend the rebates, matching the amount of the rebate check with a price discount.
The dealership is accepting checks up to $1,000 in value.
Stafford Chevrolet owner Marty Johnson said the promotion seems to be working.
“We’ve had people come to us saying, ‘I have an older vehicle that is not fuel-efficient and doesn’t have the latest technology, and I’m paying X dollars a month in insurance,’” Johnson said. “We’re thinking we’re helping leverage them out of that.”
Companies not offering incentives are optimistic people will still use their rebate checks at their stores.
Tony Stevens, owner of Stevens Heritage Furniture in Freeville, said people have stopped by the store in recent weeks to get ideas for furniture they might buy with their rebate.
Stevens said he hopes those people will help boost his business, which has seen its sales slow down since before Christmas.
“We’re still upbeat people will spend their money here,” he said. “We’re running every day low prices with the hopes people buy locally.”
Popular items at the store include home theaters, reclining furniture and plasma television stands, he said.
Cortland Valu Home Center Store Manager Neal Levi said he has a feeling people will be using their rebate checks on big purchases, such as new flooring and bathroom fixtures.
On Monday, Cortlandville resident Jody Lacey, 54, was shopping at Valu Home Center for paint, a water hose and other items for the home she and her husband moved into last week.
Much of their rebate check will be going toward fixing up their home, she said, but hopefully not all of it.
“Gosh, I hope there’s some left over,” she said.
Spending any of the rebate on new items is out of the question for Blodgett Mills resident Wayne Benjamin, 57.
Instead, he will be paying off mortgage debt, he said.
“People are losing jobs, places are shutting down and foreclosures are taking place,” he said. “I’m just kind of sitting back. The economy is just too shaky (to be spending money).”
Helpful Web sites
People can get an estimate for how much they are getting by going to www.irs.gov/app/espc.
They can find out when exactly their money will arrive by going to www.house.gov/dicks/newsroom/econstimdates.html.
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