Are You Stimulated Yet?
July 17th, 2008
Is the nation's economic stimulus package working? It's hard to tell.
The idea of the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 passed by Congress you may remember is that the Internal Revenue Service gives taxpayers money and they spend it on stuff — iPhones, Guitar Heroes and vacations. That helps the economy get back on track.
So how much do you get? It's $600 if you're single, $1,200 if you're a married couple and another $300 for each eligible child under 17.
But, again, is it working?
According to the National Retail Federation it is. The trade group says retail industry sales for May jumped 3.8 percent unadjusted over last year and 0.9 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month. And, these numbers don't include automobile sales, gas stations and restaurants, so you can't blame soaring gas prices.
According to the NRF, many consumers are focused on groceries and other necessary items while others did splurge. Sales at electronic and appliance stores increased 0.7 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and a solid 4.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Clothing and clothing accessory stores sales increased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted from April and 2.4 percent unadjusted from last May.
It may be less scientific, but if you pick up a daily newspaper in cities across the country you'll find story after story about people who are using their stimulus checks to pay bills, to reduce credit card debt and to buy gas or food.
And, there's another indicator that may be even more telling even if it's more difficult to verify.
An informal poll of some people in the payday lending business shows a 10 percent decline from April 24 through May 15 this year as opposed to the same time frame in 2007.
Payday or cash advance loans are considered an economic life-preserver for many people with sub prime credit ratings or those recovering from mortgage foreclosures or other money problems.
A payday advance is a small short-term loan without collateral usually repaid on the borrower's next payday.
Typically, a customer uses a payday loan to cover small, unexpected, expenses between paydays to avoid expensive fees on bounced checks, penalties on late bill payments, overdraft charges and other less desirable short-term credit options.
Industry analysts estimate that more than 22,000 payday advance locations across the United States extend about $40 billion in short-term credit to millions of middle-class households that experience cash-flow shortfalls between paydays.
Sites like PayDayFinder.com allow people to find nearby brick-and-mortar locations so they can comparison shop for the best payday loan rates.
Whether or not you chose to pay bills with it, go on a spending spree or save your stimulus check, you should know when to expect it. The chart below explains.
|If the last two digits of your Social Security number are:||Your check should be in the mail by:|
|00 – 09||May 16|
|10 – 18||May 23|
|19 – 25||May 30|
|26 – 38||June 6|
|39 – 51||June 13|
|52 – 63||June 20|
|64 – 75||June 27|
|76 – 87||July 4|
|88 – 99||July 11|