Wednesday, April 16, 2008

4 Mindful & Savvy Uses for Rebate Checks: Avoid the Mall

"Getting a Rebate? Focus not on more, but on more of what matters." Bottom line: Don't overspend. That's the word from the folks at Center for a New American Dream, a consumer organization that targets meaningful living and spending plans.
Here's a guest post from New American Dream about frugal and mindful uses of rebate checks:

"In a few weeks, Americans will receive their rebate checks—part of a $168 billion effort to bolster the economy through increased consumer spending. Author and sociologist Dalton Conley, however, notes in a New York Times op-ed piece that “Consumer overspending got us into this mess. More spending won’t get us out.”

Before Americans use their checks to prop up sagging sales of unsustainable products, New American Dream and the Conscious Consumer Marketplace would like to offer four things everyone can do that will be smarter for and kinder to our pocketbooks, the planet, and the economy:

1. Pay off your credit card. Author and personal financial journalist John Wasik writes for There's no personal economic benefit to carrying a balance on a credit card. It's an albatross. So pay them off and shed the seabird. Then download a free New Dream Wallet Buddy credit card sleeve to remind you to consider carefully before you charge:

2. Invest it. Recently, the national savings rate dipped below zero, the first time since the Great Depression we were spending more than we saved. Conley suggests citizens should invest the money, not run to the malls. Why not do some social goodwill while saving for your future? Learn more on Marketplace’s Socially Responsible Investing page:

3. Buy wisely. If you buy something, make it count—for you and for the environment. Writing for, personal finance journalist Laura Coffey (after cautioning first to get debts under control) says consumers should “consider buying an energy-efficient appliance, especially if you’re now relying on older, less-efficient appliances.” For more on energy efficient appliances and other ways to support the Green Economy, visit the Conscious Consumer Marketplace at

4. Give it away. No, don’t send it back to the government with a “Thanks, but no thanks” note. But if you are out of debt, investing responsibly, and satisfied with the state of your stuff, then maybe it’s time to help build a sustainable society by supporting causes you believe in.

Remember, when the check comes, you are not just a consumer. You are a citizen. Think of the rebate as an opportunity to keep afloat and support your values."



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