Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rebate, Rebate

There was an interesting story in today’s paper about the rebate checks that the government will be cutting and mailing shortly in a ham-fisted effort at stimulating the economy. (“But how do you really feel, Maggie?”) Interestingly, the majority of people (all New Yorkers, so not ones to mince words) interviewed for the story revealed that their rebates will be spent on bills—paying them, lowering their debt, not incurring new debt. Most people will not be going to customer-starved retailers and spending their cash. Nor will they be going out to dinner or on vacation. They want to pay their bills and will do so; any money left over, it was reported, will probably go into their savings accounts.

I was thrilled to hear this. Hearing that people want to get out of debt is certainly refreshing in this time of economic uncertainty.

Thing is, that’s not what the government wants us to do.

I’m not sure what we here are entitled to, but in thinking about it, I wondered what we would actually do if presented with a nice chunk of change. I really haven’t thought about it because a) how often do you get a check in the mail that’s real? (And I’m not counting the hundreds I get every year from a certain credit card company imploring me to change cards) and b) I won’t really believe it until the check is in my hot little hands. Honestly, my first instinct would be to pay some bills. But knowing that W doesn’t want me to do that, and not wanting to disappoint him (he’s had so many disappointments lately, hasn’t he?), here’s my short list of things to buy with $600.00:

1.The Christian Louboutin LaDonna Mary Jane Pump: $600.00. I get $300.00 for each kid, right? I’ve got two kids. Even I can do the math. It looks like, if I qualify for a rebate and I don’t put it toward the bills, I can get the LaDonna Mary Jane Pump, which would go splendidly with my Isaac Mizrahi Pencil Skirt from Target. The fashion mags tell us to mix and match, right? So why not a pair of $600.00 shoes with a cheap pencil skirt? I call fabulous on that.

2. Six Kobe Beef Porterhouse Steaks: Now, granted, they are twenty ounces each, and having just been in the presence of a twenty ounce steak, I can tell you that that’s a lot of steak. Over the weekend, I went to a ridiculously priced steak house in a city not far from here, and two friends split an order of a regular old American style twenty ounce steak. It was huge. But coming from good Irish families, they were loathe to leave anything on their plates, took one for the team, and finished off those bad boys. One of them is still marveling at the size of the steak and the fact that they were able to consume it. I’m still in shock from the fact that I paid $29.00 for chicken on a plate that I could have cooked at home.

3. Two composting toilets: Ok, granted, they are $305.99 each so you’d be a little short with your $600.00 rebate. But let’s say you have two bathrooms, like I do (although in the interest of full disclosure, only one is a full bath, the other being a 4’ x 4’ powder room that my son as appropriated as his own) and you are in the financial position to purchase two of these. And you want to go green. And you’d like to use your families’ waste to compost your own garden. Voila! The composting toilet. The web site on which I found this innovative product said that it is taking a little time for this idea to grab hold in most American households. Gee, I can’t imagine why.

4. Two HazMat suits: Say you go with option #1 and spend $305.99 on one composting toilet. You can put the rest of the money into the purchase of two HazMat suits to tend to your composted garden. Trust me, that would be a very wise investment.

So there are some helpful suggestions from me to you. I’d love to hear what you’re going to do with your rebate. Me? I’ll be paying bills.

Maggie Barbieri


  1. If I got this rebate I'd be very tempted to turn it into an Obama campaign donation, like quite a few dollars that have come and gone before it.

    But, it occurs to me that one of those double-edged swords of my particular personality would lead me to the oh-so-safe compromises: I'd go to a really good lunch with my sweetie (he deserves SOMETHING for staying married to a crazy woman--and since I'm not having an affair with a married man, that crazy woman be me). Then, I'd bank the rest. Or, I'd buy a new dishwasher and then bank the rest. Or I'd buy two new shrubs for a bare spot in the yard, and bank the rest.

    I don't look it or sound it, but I'm such a play it safe kind of gal these days. When and how did that happen?

    A few weeks ago I was having one of those "back when I was a kid" sorts of conversations with someone, commiserating about the shiftless youth of America and their spoiled ways, and at one point I sort of wistfully sighed and said, gee, I sometimes look at pictures of me from not twenty years ago and wonder, where did that brave, adventurous, flexible (physically and mentally) girl go?

    Without missing a beat, this guy says to me: "You got old."

    First, I think "ouch".

    Then, I think of all that energy and effort spent years ago on being brave, adventurous, and flexible and wonder if I should have only spent about half as much?

    I could have banked the rest.

  2. Vicky: You're twice the girl you were twenty years ago (and I can attest to that). With age, comes wisdom (and love handles). But we've "got it going on" as I like to say. I wouldn't trade this time for my twenties at all! Maggie

  3. Well, thank you, Mags.

    Like you I don't think being in my twenties would be all that and a bag of Doritos, either. But, I'd really love to have some of that physical energy and carefreeness back at my disposal. It's just too bad we can't be rebated a little of that stuff now that we have so much more now in our heads and hearts.

    But, we're not totally OUT of the game yet, after all.

  4. Oh, and I forgot to say that, of course, while none of us per se "bank" any of that youthful exhuberance, we surely saved up a lot of valuable stock from having spent it in the first place, right?!

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