I’m no economist. I do, however, trust economists, especially those who break complicated ideas down for the average Jane. What I’m saying here is I trust Planet Money.
I started trusting Planet Money from their very beginning, when they reached out through my super vintage iPod and explained subprime mortgage insurance to me. I know it’s a hugely popular show but like, I mean, I feel like they make the podcast just for me.
At any rate, they covered an important question recently: won’t we just go into hyperinflation with all of the money being pumped into the economy? And they said that while that is a reasonable concern (thank you for not making me feel like an idiot!), in this type of situation, people aren’t suddenly running out and buying flat screen TVs and diamond rings. For the most part, they take the stimulus money and steel themselves against the crisis: paying debts, paying rent, buying groceries, building up savings.
Because, like toilet paper, the instinct is to grab what you can and hang on to it just in case. So while the stimulus pumps a ton of money into the system (how many trillions of dollars equal a ton?), it actually doesn’t flood the system all at once. Those jerks who took all the toilet paper are actually saving us all from hyperinflation.
I love this, because I was feeling guilty about every path I could take: save the stimulus money or use it on debt, be a hoarding jerk. Spend that money to boost the economy, lose momentum on our debts that I had been building.
This way, I get to feel good about doing a little of this, a little of that. Save the big stimulus checks so we actually have an emergency fund. Money that would go to student loans is going to credit card debt. Money saved on gas and maintenance, plus anything extra (my husband’s side hustle is taking off, the “walking around money” that we aren’t spending anymore because…no walking around) can be used to provide grocery gift cards to my friends who are struggling, we can expand our food bill for takeout 2-3 times a week.
I’m still paying all my kids’ coaches and teachers, although I am returning Sonya’s saxophone and will use the money that we aren’t paying to rent it to buy a saxophone come fall. I was having her practice at home but 1) dear God, a quarantine is no time to subject yourself to beginning saxophone practice, and 2) without guidance, she was stuck on the same song, and it wasn’t really doing her any good. Should I feel bad about returning the sax right now because presumably that company relies on this money? Maybe. But we have already spent $250 in rental fees this year and they’ll be able to rent that sucker out to somebody else in the fall.
My point here is that we are all navigating uncharted waters. My other point is that I’m smart, but not that smart. Hoard away! And don’t forget to spread your salary around if you are fortunate enough to still have one.