Friday, February 13, 2009

Stimulate the economy. Go to the ATM

We've all hit the ATM sometime for extra cash to buy lunch, gas or some dinky little thing that caught our eye. And many of us have wondered, when the bank statement came later, what happened to the rest of the $20 or $40 we pulled out of the machine.

It may be that is how the stimulus plan being nailed together in Washington is supposed to work too. One of the interesting quirks of the new plan, according to one Wall Street Journal report, is the delivery of $500 to $1,000 Making Work Pay tax credit that wage earners are to receive.

The money apparently will be doled out one $20-bigger paycheck at a time for six months or so, instead of shipped in lump sums as last year's $300 to $600 stimulus checks were. The prevailing theory is that too many of us saved those earlier checks or paid bills which pooped out the hope for stimulus. We are more likely to fritter away the extra $20 dabs in our paycheck and jolt the economy to health, Mensa wannabes figure.

Maybe, maybe not. You need a paycheck to get the extra money. That is still a problem for more than 7 percent of us. We're still looking for more advice on saving money than spending it. And even at $20 a pop, far more of us currently plan to save the money than spend it, according to voluntary poll on the personal finance blog.

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