Publisher's Note: Making the most of $600
So youíve got or will be getting $600 back from the government.
What to do with this windfall? The big box stores are offering all sorts of incentives to get your cash, but what they wonít be telling you is that handing the cash to them wonít much help the local economy.
The reason for that is that Wal-Mart and other big retailers donít buy locally and donít bank locally ó the two things that really help the economy and make sure we can all make the mortgage.
Assuming you donít have a ton of credit card debt, one option is to save your $600. But not all saving is the same in terms of the local economy. Saving your money in Citizens Bank or Bank of America will do absolutely nothing for the local economy. Those national banks donít recycle money back into the local economy the way little banks and credit unions do.
A small bank or credit union will take the money you put in savings or in CDs and lend most of it back out to businesses or people in the community.
By saving your money, it is multiplied throughout the local economy again and again (if people keep using local banks). In an odd way, your saving the money means a local businesses can spend it and again.
So youíve got plenty saved and really want a new lawn mower.
First, try buying a used mower. The money you spend will go directly into the hands of a local person and then youíll likely have to repair the thing, so thatís more money into local employment ó and youíre still saving money over buying a mower at a big box store.
Even if you really really have to have a new mower, then buy it from a local dealer who sells American-made stuff. Buying from a local retailer, regardless of what they sell, helps the local economy more than buying from a big box retailer.
Spending your $600 on services will go further because almost all of that money goes to pay local residentsí wages. So getting a haircut or going to the spa not only reinvigorates you, but itís good for your community too.
Buying locally grown produce or meat will also keep the money here, as will buying some local wines, Budweiser beer (made in Merrimack) and a whole host of micobrews.
Eating out is also a good way to divest yourself of that government money. Food costs account for about one third of what you spend on a meal and some of that is from local growers. The rest goes to pay for the cooks, rent, and other locally purchased goods and services.
Or have some work done on your house. Most of that money goes to wages.
You could also give it to a local charity, such as the Boys & Girls Club in your town or the Salvation Army. Those funds stay local and go to help those most hurt in tight economic times.
Whatever you choose to do, think about how it affects your community.