So the House, Senate, and President have hammered out a deal to print out $150 billion for an economic-stimulus package that will send out cheques for up to $1,200 per family. They want you to go blow it on a plasma television—anything—and just shop till it's gone to keep the U.S. economic engine turning over.
It would not be the American way to suggest that you save it or pay down some debt, but if you are going to spend it, do it wisely. If you are going to do the right thing and blow it, do it right. Here are some of our suggestions.
1. Buy local: It is your patriotic duty to squeeze the most stimulus out of your dollar, and you do that by not shipping it overseas. Michael Shuman, in the Small-Mart Revolution explains how much better it is to spend your money in your local economy. In one study comparing two bookstores in Austin, Texas, economists found that $13 out of every $100 spent at Borders stayed in town, compared with $45 out of every $100 spent at the local bookshop.
2. Invest it in efficiency: Look at our series of posts on greening your house for winter—start with a programmable thermostat and keep going down the list until the money is gone. Trust us, you will get it all back within a year or two anyways in energy savings.
3. Buy a bike: Not a cheap one that will fall apart in weeks, but one that you can really have fun riding year round, so you can start using it instead of your car. That investment will pay for itself in weeks. Nervous? Don't miss our posts on how to commute to work by bike and how to ride your bike all winter.
4. Buy some good books: Yes, we know that the library is the greenest way to read, but authors have to eat too, and we only suggest keepers. Start with selections from our series on how to build a green library.
[see also ::Sustainablog]