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Supercharge your stimulus rebate at select retailers

In the next few weeks, economic stimulus checks will begin hitting mailboxes and bank accounts across America. Like all good Americans, you should be ready to spend your check as soon as it arrives in order to stimulate the economy. Several retailers have already announced programs to lure shoppers through their doors with stimulus incentives.

Both Kroger and Sears are offering 10% bonuses, in the form of gift cards to anyone who signs over their stimulus check. If you want to get in on the spending but received your economic stimulus check via direct deposit, you can still take part in the "deal" via check or debit card.

I'm going to go out on a limb and predict the future, in May and June, we will see loads of check fraud as retailers have untrained clerks accepting checks for over $1,000, just wait and see.

The real question which you need to ask yourself is, whether this additional 10% bonus is worth spending your government windfall, rather than tackling debt. While these gift cards have no fees or expiration dates, cards are easy to lose and misplace, costing you a nice chunk of change. Also even though gift cards tell the holder to, "treat the same as cash," in my case, a gift card gives me a feeling that I can buy whatever I want since it isn't really money, often leading to frivolous purchases. If you find that you had similar feelings with the last gift card grandma sent you on your birthday, this deal may not be for you.Personally I am going to forgo stimulating the economy. That's right, much to my wife's disappointment, we won't be spending the rebate on scrap-booking supplies and a flat screen TV. Our stimulus check will be heading straight to our credit card debt, which last time I checked, we were paying more than 10% interest on. Even though the debt is on its way to a 0% card in the next month, knocking over a grand off of our debt is way more satisfying than any shiny, beautiful, sexy new HDTV is. Right? Right?

Unless you have a killer interest rate, your stimulus check may be best spent on what you purchased last year, rather than what you want to purchase this summer.

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