Longshoreman James Coaxum doesn't lose much sleep worrying how he'll spend the extra $13 he will find in his weekly paycheck as a result of the economic stimulus plan. The way Coaxum sees it, that money is more of a blip than a bump to earnings.
"Thirteen dollars?" he said Wednesday. "I won't even see it. What are we going to do with $13 anyway?"
Coaxum isn't alone in being a bit underwhelmed by the modest windfall workers can expect from a tax credit contained in the stimulus plan. After all, with the cost of living these days, $13 doesn't stick around a wallet too long.
"I won't notice it. No way," engineer Mike Kirbysaid, as he waited to eat at Boulevard Diner in Mount Pleasant. "I might could get an extra lunch a week out of it, but it won't pay the student loans."
Maybe not, but $13 isn't chump change either. Consider what you can still buy for 13 bucks: 25 pounds of russet potatoes (on sale), a pair of matinee movie tickets, half a tank of gas, 52 gum balls from a vending machine, 30 stamps, a paperback book or a pair of ice-skating passes. At one local store, you could walk out with 13 St. Patrick's Day hats or an equal number of camouflage Easter baskets.
How far it goes depends on how you spend it. You can eke out about one lunch at a fine dining establishment or feast for half a month on fast-food burgers; drink a case of PBRs or savor a gallon of craft beer.
People's plans for the money vary. Bill Davy of Wando plans to squirrel the cash away to replace his 30-year-old bed. In West Ashley, Ted Eshleman will spend his money on gas, while his daughter, Abby, will channel her share into diapers for her baby, due in June.
Elesha Washington, a merchandise stocker from North Charleston, plans to hit the dollar stores to maximize her newfound cash buying staples such as soap, detergent, and bleach. "Fifteen dollars would have been better, but this is still a big deal."
Charleston resident Megan Crews, who works three jobs, said her $13, like the rest of her money, will go to pay bills. She's not convinced this influx will do anything to help the economy, and she worries it will simply add to her tax burden later on. Maybe she should blow the new cash on lottery tickets, looking to score a bigger payday. Then again, that would give the government more of her money to play with.
A WEEKLY BOOST
Millions of workers can expect to see about $13 extra in their weekly paychecks, starting around June. This comes from a new $400 tax credit to be doled out through the rest of the year. Couples would get up to $800.
The exact amount each worker will see will depend on his or her income. To be eligible for the extra cash, individual workers can make no more than $95,000 a year. Couples can make up to $190,000 annually and remain eligible for the credit.
In 2010, the credit would be about $7.70 a week, if it is spread over the entire year.
Sources: The Associated Press; U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn's office
WHAT WILL $13 BUY?
• 25 pounds of russet potatoes
• A pair of matinee movie tickets
• Half a tank of gas
• 52 vending machine gum balls
• 30 stamps
• A paperback book
• A pair of ice skating passes