Your Rebate Check's in the Mail

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The first wave of government rebate checks went out in the mail Monday morning, putting hundreds of dollars in American taxpayer's bank accounts.

Those rebates are designed to get people to spend their tax windfall and retailers are already trying to reel the customers in.

If you already filed your tax returns, have direct deposit and the last two digits of your social security number fall between 0 to 20 -- it could be your lucky day.

Ahead of schedule, the government has deposited the first round of rebates and by the end of the week, nearly eight million Americans will receive their checks in the mail.

"This money is going to help Americans offset the high prices we're seeing at the gas pump and at the grocery store," President Bush said last week. "And it will also give our economy a boost to help us pull out of this economic slowdown."

Designed to Jump Start the Economy

Congress and the Bush Administration came up with the $168 billion dollar stimulus package as a way to jump start consumer spending. It is also designed to give a jolt to the economy, bogged down by a crunch in credit, the mortgage meltdown and now higher food and gas prices.

But not everyone plans to spend their rebates. The majority of Americans say they plan to use it to pay off debt or will try to save it.

Even so, retailers have plans for that money.

"We're hoping to help them stretch their food dollars," said Maria Navarro, an Albertson's store director.

Many stores are trying to lure customers in, offering to turn those rebate checks amounting between $300 to $1200, into gift cards designed to give more bang for the buck.

Retail chains like Albertson's and Kroger grocery and even Sears and KMart are giving an extra 10 percent on the value of the rebate.

In keeping with the theme of going green, Home Depot is offering discounts to those who spend their rebate checks on fluorescent light bulbs and energy efficient appliances.

So if all goes according to plan, the bulk of the rebates will be in qualifying taxpayers hands by the beginning of summer. Officials in Washington hope it will bring a boost to the economy as soon as possible.

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