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Economic Stimulus Package: Money to Invest and Save, Not Spend

Don’t be fooled one minute by the politicians in Washington DC.

The economic stimulus package hailed by Congress and seemingly supported by the President is to provide as many as 116 million tax filers with a check for $600 to $1,200 (perhaps more if you have children). But all they’re doing is basically returning money we’ve already paid into the U.S. Treasury. And to do what?

Spend it, according to Democrats and Republicans alike.

These policians and their team of experts believe that what we need to avoid a recession is more consumption. They want us to spend our way out of a recession. Forget that “free markets” go through economic cycles of bulls and bears. Forget about our spiralling federal deficit. Forget about the mounting cost of numerous wars being waged on several fronts to fight terrorism — a bill the next generations will be picking up the tab for. Forget about global warming, collapsing bridges, our addiction to oil. Forget about the highly questionable fiscal shape of Social Security and Medicare in the coming years when about 78 million Americans are fully “retired” and need some money to live on and pay for the doctor bills.

Just take your token windfall and blow it on a new plasma TV, or something else you’ve always wanted.

Last time I checked, however, most of what we buy these days is made by someone living in a country far, far away. So a good portion of the money we spend leaves the country, unless, of course, you’re a supporter of the Small Mart Revolution, buying local, from neighbors or roughly from the region in which you live. How is buying stuff made from far away places going to help our community remain economically viable?

Instead of spending, consider investing for a cleaner, greener future. Invest in conservation and efficiency, replacing leaky windows or switching incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. According to Home Power magazine, the compact fluorescent blubs provide a guaranteed, 120-percent return on your investment over the life of the bulb. Try to get that kind of return on investment on Wall Street.

You could also invest in renewable energy systems like a residential wind turbine system, photovoltaic system and solar thermal system, all of which we incorporated into our operations at Inn Serendipity. We now generate more electricity than we use and get paid by our utility company.

Or we can invest in our community, helping support organizations and institutions that serve the common good. Maybe, we can plant some trees to help mitigate carbon emissions that are contributing to global warming. Or invest in a community supported agriculture (CSA) operation, where, as CSA shareholders, you receive fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables from the farmers in your community.

Alternatively, rather than filling up your home with more stuff, take this opportunity to seize control of your finances by getting rid of as much of your debt as possible. That’s right, save. Stop letting BIG FINANCE ruin your life by gorging you with interest payments on your home, car, and credit cards. We’ve discovered that if you want to feel wealthy, try having as few expenses as possible.

A penny saved can be a dollar earned when you make wise investments in energy conservation and efficiency, local food systems, and renewable energy systems as my wife and I have discovered at our home and home-based business. Our success in achieving our version of the “good life” is captured in the pages of our Rural Renaissance book. Our financial recipe for a richer life is reflected in ourECOpreneuring book, due out in May, 2008.

Suffice to say, we created the good life without spending a penny.

12 comments
  1. odograph

    It’s worse than that actually. With a multi-trillion dollar federal debt, there is no “federal treasury.”

    What they are really doing is transferring debt from us as individuals to us (again), but this time as taxpayers.

    The debt will still need to be addressed in the future, but it will just now be a little bit larger.

    That’s the bad news. The thing that makes it a harder problem is that there could be worse outcomes. In a recession government outlays increase and revenue falls, so federal debt increases anyway. If a stimulus actually works it might actually prevent some of that. Maybe.

    Regardless, we’ll come out of this with a lot of federal debt. The idea that there is a treasury somewhere to be raided is quite wrong.

  2. weatherholtz

    John-

    I enjoyed your post. Often times I find more fulfillment when I am forced to save and be frugalβ€”it changes my lifestyle in ways that are fundamentally better for peace of mind and health. For instance, I spend more time reading the many books I have stacked up in my room, I concentrate more on eating ALL the food I buy which enables me to continue buying the premium priced organic foods I like, and I do things that don’t cost money like painting or going to parks and museums. I find that more disposable income usually begets more recklessness on my end. Perhaps this is because I’m young. But reading your post reminds me once again what “the good life” should resemble and that I don’t need more stuff, I’ve got plenty.

  3. odograph

    I should always remember to say which bits I agree with. I am frugal and also see a connection between that and environmental practices. Heh, sometimes I thin my frugality might start first, and environmentalism makes it ok …

    But in terms of modern industrialized society, there will be a rude transition if it unwinds too fast. Here I am, frugal and environmental, but I should get back to building software frameworks for auto dealers(!).

    If people did as I say, I might talk myself out of a job.

  4. My Adventures in Simple Living » Blog Archive » How will you spend your tax rebate?

    […] Economic Sustainablog recommends something other than typical spending (invest in local and sustainable products so that you actually are stimulating the US economy instead of other countries). Us? We’ll probably give a little bit to ourselves for personal spending (as we typically do with extra money) and the majority will go towards paying off the HEL early or straight to the adoption fund (depending on when it arrives). […]

  5. Amy Elizabeth Burr

    Will people on social security and disability be eligible for a stimulus check and how much will it be?
    I heard on the news it was going to be $250. Can you comment on this or do some research for me.

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