Spending Tax Rebates

4/27/2008 Fresno, CA But as gas prices continue to rise, and people continue to cut their spending, it's unknown just how much those rebates will actually stimulate anything.

Sunday afternoon, cars lined up for $3.75 cent gas at a north Fresno Costco. As gas hovers at the $4.00 mark, many people are looking for a bargain. They're also cutting back. "We've definitely cut back on driving," said Paul Smith.

Another valley consumer told Action News he's also changing his lifestyle. "I don't even go to the movies anymore. I don't even rent movies anymore. I don't have cable because of that," said Louis Ramirez.

People are also dining out less, according to our exclusive Action News poll, conducted by Survey USA. We asked people what they were cutting back on the most due to rising gas prices. 37% said they're eating out less, 21% say they're spending less on groceries, and 16% say they're shopping at discount stores.

As the economic stimulus checks begin rolling out, other retailers are vying for consumers' money. They're offering special "stimulus" deals and more "bang" for your buck. K-mart and Sears are offering gift cards with a 10 percent bonus, if you cash your stimulus checks with them. That means a $600 check can turn into $660. Still, some shoppers Action News talked with were hesitant to cash in on the deal. "It's a good deal. It's okay. Just not for us," said shopper Lupe Perez.

Elodia Marquez said she wants to make memories with the money. "I'm going to take my kids to Great America. Have some fun with it," said Marquez.

Paul Smith said the money will go to savings. "We've had to dig into the savings with the gas crunch so hopefully we'll be able to replenish the savings with the stimulus check," said Smith.

Fresno credit counselor Martha Lucey said paying off debt and saving some of the money may be the best thing to do with the tax rebates. "It's a much better objective to getting yourself to a point where you're secure in your finances than going out and spending something on a big screen TV on an impulse purchase," said Lucey.

Unfortunately, paying off debt or saving money won't stimulate the economy, which is what the president was hoping to do. But what you do with your money is your decision to make. Patrick Jameson said he wants to go on a vacation. "I'm going to do what the government says. Spend it!" said Jameson.

Economic stimulus rebate checks will begin to be deposited directly into people's bank accounts Monday. Paper checks will begin going out May 9th.

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