04/24/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

6 Ways To Put Your Stimulus Money Where Your Heart Is

Now that President Obama has signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a 787 billion dollar economic stimulus package, we can all expect to see a couple of extra decimal points in our bank accounts. The law contains tax breaks that will benefit everyone from college students and the unemployed to homeowners and buyers. Most of these tax cuts will only be effective within the next two years or so, a measure designed to encourage spending (which will stimulate the economy) rather than saving (which would stagnate it). Economic strategists argue that we are more likely to spend money if we consider it a bonus rather than a steady income; we are less attached to what we see as "extra money" and find it easier to spend on an impulse buy.

But not all spending has the same effect. Sure, you could go out and buy that HDTV you've been eyeing, but wouldn't you rather use your tax credits to benefit your community and help your neighbors weather the economic crisis? If the answer is yes, consider the following ways to put your stimulus money to work for the greater good.