By Staff

With the $789.5 billion stimulus package passed by congress and headed to the Senate for a final vote, the President could sign everything into law on Monday morning.  Included in the package is a $400-per-worker tax credit for 2009 and 2010.

The tax credit will reduce the amount withheld from your paycheck starting sometime in late spring or early summer. The result is an estimated $13 extra per week for 2009. (The impact in 2010 is estimated at $7.70 per week, since the $400 credit will be stretched over the full year.) While $13 a week doesn't sound like much, that's an extra $52 or so a month that can go towards paying down your debt or boosting your savings, whichever makes the most sense for your situation.

What should you do with your piece of the multi-billion-dollar pie? Here are a couple of suggestions.

1. Pay down a credit card balance: Say you're carrying a $2,000 balance on a credit card that charges 18% interest. If you're currently paying $120 a month, you'll be able to pay that off in 19 months. Add an extra $52 to your monthly payments and you can shave 6 months off the payoff time. Play with your numbers using's credit card payment calculator  to see how extra cash can help pay off your balances faster.

2. Send it to savings: Set up an automatic $26 deposit per two-week pay period into a savings account or money market account before you have a chance to spend the cash. Once there, let compounding interest boost your overall savings.

Residents of the New York metropolitan area, for instance, can sign up for a money market account from Bank of America (Stock Quote: BAC) or Alliance Bank (Stock Quote: ALNC) earning 1.25% or 0.75% interest, respectively. Alternately, residents can sign up for a savings account from Citibank (Stock Quote: C) offering 0.25% interest. More local options include a 2.8% money market account from Intervest National Bank (Stock Quote: ICBA), or a 2.0% savings account from Bank of Smithtown (Stock Quote: SMTB).

Setting aside $26 every two weeks at 2.8% interest will leave you with $686 by the end of the year. While that may not seem like much money, it can go a long way toward jump starting your savings plans.

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