Stimulus checks have been arriving for the past two weeks and will continue to until all those allowed to get one have one. I’m pretty sure most people know where those dollars are going to go, but in case you need some ideas here goes.
First, let me tell you where my check will be going. I’m investing it in my own outdoor books to sell to you and everyone you know. I’m offering free shipping through May to anywhere in the United States. (More about the U.S. Postal Service later.) You see, being an author is my current job. If I don’t sell books, I don’t have money. I know there are a lot of changes with unemployment, but author doesn’t seem to be a category that is covered. Your book choices are The Dirt Around Lake Tahoe: Must-Do Scenic Hikes ($15), Snowshoeing Around Lake Tahoe: Must-Do Scenic Treks ($10), and Lake Tahoe Trails For All Seasons: Must-Do Hiking and Snowshoe Treks ($20); the latter is a combo of the first two. Every guestroom in the greater Lake Tahoe area should have the combo book, as should every vacation rental; everyone who visits Lake Tahoe should have these books. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to order your books.
Once you’ve filled all your book orders, don’t stop spending. Buy other books. Other authors need money, too.
Then think about the local businesses you like and think about all the people you know who are out of work or who are still working. If they are still working, they are pretty damn essential. Instead of waiting until the end of the year to thank some of those workers (mail carrier, garbage peeps, etc.) buy them a gift card now to say thank you. It could be from someplace that is open or someplace that plans to reopen.
This is a win-win-win. You are stimulating the economy by spending the stimulus check and not just socking it away. The business where you buy the gift card from has some cash. The person who receives it will undoubtedly be grateful.
Consider spending the money on extras at the grocery store and then go around giving out eggs, toilet paper, rice and other hard to find items as well as staples to neighbors. Maybe you put them out front so people can pick them up as they go by. I know in my neighborhood there are a lot more people out walking than usual. Or if you know a neighbor or friend or even a stranger who could use some help, perhaps buy them a gift card to a grocery store or to a restaurant.
You probably have a favorite charity. Most nonprofits are hurting right now. See what they need, what their workers need. Your hair dresser, massage therapist and other personal care professionals have been sidelined by this virus. Most probably sell gift cards. Maybe you tip double on that first visit when they reopen, or maybe buy some product in the shop.
Support your favorite media outlet. Advertisers are dropping because they are out of business. Don’t let that media outlet be a victim of this pandemic, too.
Another place I’m spending my stimulus cash is at the post office. First, I’m going to have all those books to send that you all are going to be buying directly from me. Second, I’ve decided to send one personal correspondence a week. It’s not much, but so much more than I usually do. You see, the U.S. Postal Service is in a world of hurt. It was financially troubled before this coronavirus, but it’s even worse now. The amount of “junk mail” in my post office box is nil these days. No longer am I receiving grocery store ads. That junk mail provided a ton of revenue for the USPS.
I love receiving mail. It’s how I get some book money from retailers. While I could take a picture and deposit those checks, I choose to send them to my bank. Fifty-five cents is quite a bargain for a first class stamp. This month I received a letter from a friend in Switzerland. We first met when we were traveling in South America in 2001. We’ve stayed in touch ever since. It took a few of those first class stamps to reply to her. I can’t imagine not having mail delivery. Well, I can actually. I didn’t have it in Mexico and I hated it.
So, here’s another idea for spending that stimulus money—buy stamps. Really! One of my favorite gifts to high school graduates is a roll of stamps. (That’s 100 stamps.) I hated buying stamps in college. I also knew my parents loved to hear from me. There is something more personal about a mailed letter compared to an email or text.
I also use the Postal Service to vote. I have for years. This is a huge reason the federal government should find a way to ensure the U.S. Postal Service survives. People in the military vote by mail all the time. There are counties in California that only do mail-in ballots. Oregon has been using vote by mail exclusively since voters approved a measure in 1998. With voting being such a fundamental component of what it means to be a U.S. citizen, to not be able to do so by mail is absurd.
Now go order some books, buy gift cards, purchase stamps—stimulate the economy with that stimulus check.