Use your ‘economic stimulus’ check to buy a bicycle

May 12, 2008 | By | 8 Replies More

We all understand that Bush’s ‘economic stimulus’ check is nothing more than an excuse for Washington politicians to try to buy your vote, just as Bush did so effectively in his 2000 campaign. The ‘stimulus’ has received bipartisan support, likely because incumbents on both sides of the aisle are concerned about joining the ranks of the unemployed next January unless the economy begins to look better by the November election. We also all understand that this ‘stimulus’ is nothing more than yet another excuse for the Bush Administration to tap the federal credit card on your behalf — to dig a bigger debt hole for your grandchildren so you can enjoy having more stuff today.

Be that as it may, the checks are coming, so our job now is to do something smart with them. ‘Smart’ as in investing the money in something that will give you a positive return. Of course, you could fund an IRA, pay down your mortgage, save for a child’s college fund, etc., but assuming you already have all those things in satisfactory condition, one smart thing you could do with the money (or encourage your friends, neighbors and relatives to do with it) would be to buy a bicycle. In these days of high gas prices, growing waist lines, and concerns that the money we pay for oil might be helping to fund the next Islamic terrorist attack against us, buying — and then riding — a bicycle would be a great way to invest your stimulus check in something that would yield many positive returns. Not only is cycling great exercise, it is also a great way to trim your gasoline bill — by doing short errands or even commuting to work. Even if you have a long or treacherous commute, you might consider driving part-way and then biking the rest. In any case, you’ll be amazed by how much gas you can save by using a bicycle for short trips of, say, five miles or less.


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About the Author ()

Grumpypilgrim is a writer and management consultant living in Madison, WI. He has several scientific degrees, including a recent master’s degree from MIT. He has also held several professional career positions, none of which has been in a field in which he ever took a university course. Grumps is an avid cyclist and, for many years now, has traveled more annual miles by bicycle than by car…and he wishes more people (for the health of both themselves and our planet) would do the same. Grumps is an enthusiastic advocate of life-long learning, healthy living and political awareness. He is single, and provides a loving home for abused and abandoned bicycles. Grumpy’s email: grumpypilgrim(AT)@gmail(DOT).com [Erich’s note: Grumpy asked that his email be encrypted this way to deter spam. If you want to write to him, drop out the parentheticals in the above address].

Comments (8)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    Grumpy: The purchase of a bicycle is a terrifically good suggestion for those so-called "economic stimulus payments."

    BTW, what an incredibly wretched name for that transfer of money. It would be more accurate to call those transfers the "Greedy and ignorant politicians shoving the country further in debt payments" or maybe the "Let's pretend that the U.S. can simply print wealth payments."

    These payments are immoral because they heave a huge new dose of debt on the next generation. These payments are monuments to our refusal to take real steps to do something positive and meaningful for the financial health of our country. They are further evidence that we are living in the post-fact era. Even though I am an agnostic, I'm sometimes tempted to say "God save us."

    Back to bicycles. You raise an excellent suggestion for how to invest money. Bicycling is a win-win-win-win for many people. Many of us at DI chimed in on various aspects of bicycling at an earlier post called "Make money by commuting on your bicycle."

  2. Dan Klarmann says:

    I have been considering replacing my well-worn 1990-ish bike. Maybe it is a good suggestion.

    Perhaps people are feeling their stimulus checks. As MrTitanium, I had an unusually profitable weekend; nine orders in 2 days. If I were to keep earning at that rate, MrT's Schedule C could exceed the poverty line this year.

    I've generally been appalled at this "stimulus" since I first heard of it. Think of what capital projects could have been built for the money (about $100,000,000,000)! That's the cost of a couple of dozen new (safer) nuclear power plants, including delays and legal skirmishes, from deciding where to put it through fully fueled and operational. This could have meant new jobs for thousands of people.

    Or put it to planting wind power. Texas has enough available wind land to power itself and a dozen other states without using either nuclear or coal. It mainly needs the initial capital investment!

    Think of what could have been built for just the cost of distributing the money (official est. $200,000,000)! That's a new interstate from St. Louis to Des Moines (halfway to Minneapolis). Better yet, a high speed rail line all the way up.

  3. Have you noticed how heavy the new bikes have become? I bought a new one last year and although it's fine, I think it's weight makes it less enjoyable. I would like to be able to carry my bike up or down stairs and that's nearly impossible with this bike. I also bought an older used bike and I find myself using it a lot more, despite the wheels being a bit bent, because it's comfortable, much lighter and mobile (?). I haven't seen them sell any normal bike anymore, they all look like they have been made to survive WWIII.

  4. Dan Klarmann says:

    Proj: Bikes still come in all shapes and sizes. If you want cheap, you get heavy Chinese steel. My tandem "mountain" bike (eBay, $250 delivered) is like that. Most tandems are over $1000, but weigh considerably less.

    But the best deal in bikes is to buy used. Many people with too much money buy fancy bikes, ride them for a season, let them collect dust for a decade, and then get rid of them. Find a bike salvage shop.

  5. Vicki Baker says:

    Here in Santa Cruz, it seems like all the cool kids are riding vintage recycled or new retro 10-speed road bikes, just like back in the day (70's) Cruisers are out, and mountain bikes are just for the trails.

    Personally I would love a bike from Rivendell Bicycle Works

  6. grumpypilgrim says:

    To Dan: your '90s bike might be worth upgrading, depending upon what you have and what you now need. However, nice new bikes can be had these days for $300-400, so it might not be worth your time & effort.

    To proj: a lot of a bike's weight depends upon the design. For example, a mountain bike will typically weigh more than a road bike. Perhaps you are thinking of some of the so-called cruiser or "comfort" bikes that are now being hawked — most of these are tanks that blatantly contradict their monikers. As Dan points out, good values can be had in used bikes: check the bike shops *this month*, because many students will be graduating and selling off their old bikes, so selection is good and prices generally low.

    Indeed, as Vicki mentions, vintage bikes are popular, and for good reason: many were hung up for storage in garages as soon as they got their first flat tire, so there are some excellent values out there. There are also good websites out there with tips on refurbing older bikes; see, e.g.,

  7. grumpypilgrim says:

    Erich & Dan, as regards the monstrous long-term cost of this short-term 'stimulus' package, it is just another example of Bush's nightmarish solutions to his nightmarish policies. Apparently, his goal is to cripple the U.S. economy so badly that Democrats will spend the next four years just trying to repair his mess (i.e., just like he is doing in Iraq).

  8. I bought a vintage peugeot with my first rebate check this year and sold my car to pay off debt… best decision i have ever made! My bike is very very light, and it was under $100. The repairs are super cheap, I'm in shape, helping the environment, and overall just feel amazing. My $600 is going towards school, but it's still an investment, 600 less on the student loans this year 🙂

    I feel sorry for anyone buying crap, save and invest! Use the money to help yourself in the long run!

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