Family knows where economic stimulus money will go: child’s surgery

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Lee Ann Sides Garrett and Hugh Fisher
Salisbury Post
Uncle Sam is about to mail millions of Americans a special bonus, and Lee and Peggy Fisher know exactly what they’ll buy first.
“We’re buying a lip,” Lee Fisher said this week as he and Peggy paused to talk to a reporter on Main Street in Salisbury.
Holly, the youngest of the Fishers’ four children, was born with cleft palate. She’s already had one corrective surgery, and the couple plan to spend their part of a $168 billion economic stimulus package on their co-pay for a second operation for Holly.
Then, if their health insurance covers enough of the operation bill, “we may go to the mountains, if we can,” Peggy Fisher said.
Beginning as early as this week, the federal government will start mailing checks to more than 130 million households, hoping all that money will help America reverse an economic downturn.
Today’s Salisbury Post contains a special Economic Stimulus section that includes a chart explaining how the checks will be mailed or deposited in people’s bank accounts.
Anyone receiving benefits or earning income of $3,000 or more in 2007 qualifies to receive a rebate, according to the program President Bush signed into law in February.
Just like Americans everywhere, Post readers and people interviewed in Rowan and Cabarrus counties were divided about how they’ll use the money.
A number of older adults said they’d prefer to save that check for a rainy day, even though that’s not what the government has in mind.
“My son said that to be patriotic, I was supposed to blow it!” Gloria Martin said.
Martin, who works at Village Grill in Kannapolis, said figuring out where to spend her family’s stimulus payment was tough.
“My dishwasher is ancient,” she said. “I’ve meant to replace it for years. But we’re also going to get a second TV for my guest room.”
When the Post invited online readers to pick one of three ways they would use their money, 165 responded and divided this way:
– Pay bills: 54 percent, or 89 readers.
– Save it: 33 percent, or 64 readers.
– Shop til you drop: 13 percent, or 22 readers.
Here are the comments local residents shared with two reporters on Thursday and Friday:
– Tiffany Llewellyn, Salisbury: “Bills, mostly. I haven’t thought too much about it. I want to make sure I get it before I make plans.”
– Kelly Sommerfeld, Salisbury: “I’ll spend it on my property. It will help purchase my storage building out back.”
– Ann McIntyre: “If I get one, it’s going in the bank or put it towards my mortgage.”
– Bruce Snyder, Salisbury: “I’ll probably put it in the bank รณ that’s where it came from. We might put it toward building a pergola.”
– Barbara Umberger, Rockwell: “I hope to be able to save it.”
– Aaron Long, Salisbury: “I hadn’t thought about it.”
– Edna McClary, Rockwell: “I’m going to have my car fixed.”
– Maria Miller, Salisbury: “I’m saving it.”
– Sheila Baker, Salisbury: “Probably pay bills. I mean gas is $3.51 a gallon.”
– Sylvia Bryan, Faith: “I’ll spend it.”
– Bob Bruce, Granite Quarry: “I’ll spend it on gas to travel.”
– Doc Wilson, Salisbury: “I’m going to take a vacation.”
– Betsy Sides: “I’m going to put it in my checking account to help meet the high price of gas and groceries.”
– Vessie Foster, Concord: “Mine is going to home renovations. We’ve got to do a lot of painting and fixing floors.”
– Ida Finger, Salisbury: “I’m going to save mine for Christmas.”
– Elaine Mills, Salisbury: “I’m going to save mine and spend it on my anniversary in November.”
– Aaron Rimer, Salisbury: “It’s a toss-up between golf clubs and a Playstation 3.”