Me, I commissioned three stained glass windows from a local artist and booked a trip to Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania, for July. So what did we spend it on? Cleveland.com asked readers through our text message service how they spent their stimulus checks.
Consumer spending is up about 7.5% since January, said University of South Carolina Professor William Hauk, who studied stimulus payments with his business classes. “It’s almost like found money,” said Jonathan Ernest, an assistant professor of economics at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management. “They’ve been waiting to undertake these activities for so long. You feel like it’s a one-time shock. You don’t feel quite the same responsibility to stash that money away for a rainy day.”
“People were just at home for the better part of a year,” Hauk said. “Now that things are opening up, they feel free to go out and spend.” The American Rescue Plan included the largest payments of the three stimulus bills, giving up to $1,400 per person, plus an additional $1,400 per eligible child. And unlike earlier stimulus payments, which many households used primarily for daily expenses like food and housing, economists say it gave Americans more of a cushion.
“It helped to pay for things we would have bought anyway and helped our savings,” said one reader. Out of the more than 130 responses we received, no one said they booked a trip to Hawaii or threw a big end-of-pandemic party. They bought new tires, a much-needed washing machine, a dishwasher, a treadmill to keep their family fit. A few put money toward new cars and a red Vespa. One traveled to California to see family members separated since the start of the pandemic. One is saving for a wedding.
Some paid off debt, whether in credit cards, college loans or mortgages. Some stuck it in their bank accounts to either spend on everyday bills or save for the future. Some donated to food banks and other struggling non-profits. Some gave it to family members in need. Some paid for health procedures, like dental crowns. Some hired local contractors to renovate their kitchens, shore up their porches or install a new shower. The responses were varied.
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- From paying with a credit card to buying a Vespa, how do we spend our stimulus money?
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