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Is Spending Money to Save Money a Bad Message?

While several retailers have been offering what they call bonuses for spending your entire check either exclusively at their stores or promoting special deals during the time Americans are receiving their checks, some of their competitors are criticizing them for encouraging irresponsible behavior. According to the New York Times, stores like Sears, Supervalu, and Kroger's are offering shoppers a 10 percent bonus if they buy a gift card with their checks and Domino's is offering a “recession-busting” special of three pizzas for $12, while Home Depot is encouraging customers to buy energy-efficient products to save money.

The Times points out that the disapproving companies are concerned with the oxymoronic nature of these marketing campaigns that encourage a "spend money to save money" mentality. Jean Ann Fox, director of financial services at the Consumer Federation of America said, “A lot of people probably have high-cost debt they need to pay off with this money. And if you’ve tied up your stimulus check in a card that can only be used at one store, you can’t do that.” On the other hand, the vice president for marketing services at Sears said, "We don’t think of it as locking it up, but rather giving people a choice of how to spend it.” Where do you stand?

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