Monday, June 04, 2001

How to spend tax refund in one place

        Uncle Sam swears everybody's tax refund check will soon be in the mail.

        The refunds come in two sizes. Up to $300 for individuals. Tops of $600 for married taxpayers filing jointly.

        Economists predict these refund checks will jump-start the economy. Color me skeptical.

        If a bunch of $300 and $600 checks can jump-start the sluggish dry cells of American commerce, the economy must be powered by a double-A battery.

        With gasoline prices soaring and everyone having bills to pay, $600 seems like a drop in the bucket.

        Should the mail carrier deliver a $600 refund to the Radel household, I can already hear the missus hollering: “We're rich!” Irony's her specialty.

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        She's also likely to yelp: “A whopping $600! Don't spend it all in one place!”

        That's exactly what I intend to do. To decide where to spend my money, I did some comparison shopping.

        Only hometown goods were priced. If I'm going to jump-start the economy, might as well clamp those jumper cables on something close to home.

        Six hundred George Washingtons will buy — pick only one:

        • 1,333 White Castle hamburgers.

        • 1,200 pounds of Kaiser's sauerkraut.

        • 923 Metro bus tokens.

        • 606 pounds of tart cherries picked in Lebanon at Irons' Fruit Farm.

        • 600 mugs of root beer from the Root Beer Stand.

        • 545 Camp Washington Chili cheese coneys.

        • 307 potato pancakes, Christy's and Lenhardt's restaurant.

        • 300 trips to Carew Tower's observation deck.

        • 244 Frisch's Big Boys.

        • 215 rolls of Glier's Original Goetta.

        • 200 trips aboard the Anderson Ferry.

        • 200 six-packs of commemorative 8-ounce Coke bottles marking the 100th anniversary of the Cincinnati Coca-Cola Bottling Co.

        • 171 pounds of Vidalia onion sausage made by Kroeger & Sons Meats of Findlay Market.

        • 162 pounds of cottage hams smoked at Stehlin's Meats.

        • 153 pints of Graeter's chocolate ice cream.

        • 150 Skyline Chili 3-ways.

        • 141 schnecken pastries, Regina Bakery.

        • 113 bath-size, 12-bar packs of Ivory soap.

        • 100 six-packs of Christian Moerlein beer.

        • 66 dozen carnations, Penny Lane Flower Shop.

        • 55 LaRosa's medium, super-crust, pepperoni pizzas with extra cheese.

        • 43 pounds of Aglamesis Bros.' opera creams.

        • 30 slab-of-ribs dinners, Montgomery Inn.

        • 24 Cincinnati-in-a-Box board games.

        • 10 tickets to the Kentucky Speedway's June 16 Outback Steakhouse 300.

        • 10 dozen long-stemmed roses, Jones the Florist.

        • 7 season passes (for individuals, ages 7-59), Paramount's Kings Island.

        • 6 custom-made shirts, pinpoint oxford cloth (plus tax), Mike Trotta Tailors.

        • 5 weeknights' lodging in the Golden Lamb's Charles Dickens Room.

        • 4 hats, cowboy or fedora, made to order by Gus Miller of Batsakes Hat Shop.

        • 4 hours (tips included) in Washington Limousine's 12-passenger, 2001 Lincoln Continental limo.

        Spare change from any of these splurges can be put toward buying a Greater Cincinnati street map ($3.95 at Joseph-Beth Booksellers).

        Just make sure it shows the direct route to the poorhouse.

        Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at (513) 768-8379; fax 768-8340.

How will you spend your tax refund?

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