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Spend or Save?

Local residents deciding what to do with stimulus checks

May 18, 2008
By RICHARD NILSEN, The Leader-Herald
At Ruby & Quiri in Johnstown, Chris Park is tying a sale on furnishings, floor coverings and appliances to the federal economic stimulus package — and it seems to be working.

“We had about a dozen customers in [Tuesday] who took advantage of our offer,” Park said. “And the ads haven’t even hit yet in many areas.”

Mary Peterson of Gloversville said she is planning on buying items for her daughters with her stimulus money. Her twin daughters, who attend Hartwick College in Oneonta, Oneida County, need “dorm stuff” for school.

“They roomed together last year, but decided to go their separate ways this year,” she said. “So we’ll need two of everything.”

A short way down Route 30A from Ruby & Quiri, Ponderosa Manager Tracy Van Alstine said he is planning to put his rebate check toward work on his home. This is the kind of response Park is looking for.

“We want people to invest in the local economy,” Park said. “This gives people an added incentive.”

Park’s offer includes a certificate for the amount of a customer’s rebate check plus 15 percent. A person with a $600 rebate can get $690 in buying power at the store.

“We had a customer [Tuesday] who got $360 in savings from his rebate,” Park said.

According to the IRS Web site, beginning this month, the U.S. Treasury will begin sending economic stimulus payments to more than 130 million households. To receive a payment, taxpayers must have a valid Social Security number, $3,000 of income and filed a 2007 federal tax return. The IRS will take care of the rest. Eligible people will receive up to $600 [$1,200 for married couples] and parents will receive an additional $300 for each eligible child younger than 17. Millions of retirees, disabled veterans and low-wage workers who usually are exempt from filing a tax return must do so this year in order to receive a stimulus payment.

Most taxpayers will receive two notices from the IRS. The first general notice from the IRS will explain the stimulus payment program. The second notice will confirm the recipients’ eligibility, the payment amount and the approximate time table for the payment. Taxpayers will need to save this notice to assist them when they prepare their 2008 tax return next year.

With a down economy, many people say they expect to save the money or spend it on necessities.

Nikki Little in Johnstown said she expects to put the money toward bills.

Martha Clough in Gloversville said she would spend the money on food and gas.

Larry Razzano in Johnstown said he thought most people would use the rebate money for “everyday things” and therefore not notice the impact very much.

Eric Hayner of H&P Motors in Gloversville said he wasn’t sure what will happen to his refund check because he won’t see it.

“I just hand it over to my wife,” Hayner said with a laugh.

Fulton County Regional Chamber of Commerce & Industry President Wally Hart said he hopes people will spend their money on local businesses.

He was in Washington Thursday lobbying for businesses that are hurting.

“We are talking about how to keep the money local,” Hart said. “We encourage people to spend their tax rebates locally.”

Hart said he knew from business owners' reports that many people aren't spending what they once were.

“I’m with Mark Finkle [of Finkle Distributors] here in Washington,” Hart said. “Finkle Distributors has 30 trucks on the road and fuel prices are killing them. Those fuel hikes are passed on to their consumers. Those costs are affecting everyone.”

Hart said one way to fight fuel and transportation costs would be to shop locally and not travel elsewhere for shopping.

“I’m committed to keeping my money local,” Hart said.

At Kingsboro Lumber, Kitchen and Bath Designer Kathy Henze agreed.

“We’re hoping people will invest in their homes,” Henze said. “An investment in their homes will give years of enjoyment.”

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Richard Nilsen
A sign outside of Ruby & Quiri in Johnstown shown Wednesday explains a sale tied to a customer’s stimulus check.



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