What Your Tax Rebate Will Buy in Gas and Groceries


Americans expecting to use their economic stimulus check for a vacation, gas, and groceries might have to think again.

Around $130 billion in rebate checks have begun to be disbursed with the expectation of spurring the economy, which has been hit by job loss and rising oil costs.

"The money is going to help Americans offset the high prices we're seeing at the gas pump, the grocery store, and also give our economy a boost to help us pull out of this economic slowdown," President Bush has said. The question for many is: How far will it take you?

If you’re a family of four and are getting $1,200 than expect to spend more than half of your check on food.

In March, a family of four spent $625 on monthly grocery costs using a low cost plan, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. That’s about an 8% increase from a March 2007 grocery bill. While some grocery stores are offering incentives to individuals that cash their check in-store, many Americans will lose out on this extra discount due to direct deposit.

Meanwhile, at the pump, motorists have been feeling the pinch since oil prices set records after crossing $100 a few months ago. We took at a look at five states to get an idea of how much Americans across the U.S. are spending to get from point A to B. Using an estimate of 15,000 miles a year, car owners will drive 1250 miles a month. If you own a 2009 Toyota Camry that allows 26 miles per gallon (an average of the 21/31 mpg on the company website), here’s what MainStreet expects you might spend using the monthly fuel gauge report from AAA:

New Jersey
Gallon: $3.48
Month: $167.33
Year: $2,007.96

Gallon: $3.53
Month: $169.73
Year: $2,036.81

Gallon: $3.60
Month: $173.10
Year: $2,077.20

Gallon: $3.65
Month: $175.54
Year: $2,106.50

Gallon: $3.92
Month: $188.46
Year: $2,261.52

What does that mean? If you’re a family of four, don’t count on your check to cover the annual cost of gas. It may be able to get you through a month or so of groceries, and perhaps six months of gas in some states. Of course, keep in mind, if you have young children and liberal food costs, expect to only have about $93 left over after you pay $1,107 dollars for groceries.

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