Have you gotten your economic stimulus check yet? I got mine a few weeks ago, the money being directly deposited into my checking account. Now the question is, where and on what do I spend the money?

I’ve started noticing a lot of ads from businesses offering to give you an additional percentage of the check if you spend it with them. One major retailer is offering to cash the check for free, hoping you’ll spend it in their store.

I was in Phoenix when the money was placed in my bank account. I was able to check on my bank account daily by logging on via the Internet using my friend’s laptop computer. So if you don’t own a pc yet, perhaps that is one of the first things you may want to buy.

Why is a computer so important? You need a computer (and access to the Internet) to obtain the information you need to function in today’s world. Looking for a job? No longer do you necessarily need to go from place to place to fill out a job application. Many of the companies allow you to fill out an application using their websites. And with many of the companies now wanting you to send in a resume, the word processing capability of a computer is a plus.

I have decided to see how much I can do with my stimulus money to stretch it as far as it can go while at the same time being conscientious about trying to support American businesses and products “made in America.” Now I know that most computers aren’t made in America. And much of America’s manufacturing jobs have long ago been sent overseas. But with gasoline over four bucks a gallon, the price of imported goods will soon be as much as when they were made here. So in the meantime, whenever I purchase something, I do check the label to see where it was made. I also use my computer to shop online.

As I wrote in my last column, I was helping a friend get her new baby’s room ready. We had picked out the baby’s room color (orange) and theme (outer space). My friend wanted the baby’s name on the wall so we found wood letters at a local craft store, and when I bought the small bottles of paint to do the letters, the paint was “made in America.” We also got fabric decorated with planets to use to make the curtain for the room and the fabric was printed in America.

Anyone who has ever had a baby knows that all the things for a new baby can cost a fortune. My friend and I used the Internet to find all the local garage sales and only went to those that had children’s items for sale. My friend bought a huge bag of boy’s clothes for $20. Some of the clothes looked like they had never been worn or barely worn once.

One of the things I introduced my friend to was the use of Craig’s List, an online free service that people use to post messages. My motto is if I can’t find it made in America, then the least I can do is find another American who is selling something, and I can help the economy by putting the money in their pockets. My favorite part of Craig’s List is the “For Sale” section. I recently saw the exact dining room set I purchased years ago for $2,000 being offered for $600. So why buy new when there are people selling things in excellent condition for pennies on the dollar? Plus, by buying directly from another person, you can avoid that new Cook County sales tax increase. Yeah!

Many of the people selling on Craig’s List are moving and need to sell off some of their stuff. So if you enjoy garage sales, estate sales or just plain saving money when shopping, this is the modern way to do it.

Lastly, I know if America’s economy is suffering, Black America’s economy is almost dead. I will make an effort to spend that money with a black business or a black person, like those who will be at the Juneteenth celebration on Chicago Avenue next month. I got an offer to renew my Jet Magazine, so I’ll renew it for four years rather than two. I’m sending some money for the King Memorial in Washington so I can say when I see it that I helped to build it. Lastly, my handyman is going to make money doing some of the home repairs that I need done that I cannot do.

P.S.: Matthew, my friend’s new baby was born last Wednesday, May 14, hours before I was scheduled to leave. Here’s a picture of his room that, so far, cost less than $100 to decorate.