Easy Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund the Right Way

Posted by Kristen on April 15, 2014

The tax deadline is here! If you are still finishing your tax return today, be sure to see the Last Minute Checklist for Getting Your Taxes Done Right! And if you aren’t going to finish today, you’ll want to head straight for the information in How to File for a Tax Extension.

Once your taxes are filed, it’s time to talk about your refund. In the past, we’ve covered smart ways to spend your tax refund in college and ways to spend it if you are a newlywed. But these tips are beneficial things everyone can do with their tax refund this year.

Photo Credit: 401(k)2012

Make Smart Money Moves

  • Pay down your credit card debt. If you have credit card debt, pay down the highest interest rate first.
  • Start (or add to) an emergency fund. Some experts say you should have a six month emergency fund if you were to lose your job or get injured. If you don’t have one, start it now.
  • Open an IRA. Start thinking about retirement and open a retirement account to start saving now.
  • Start maxing out your 401k. If you haven’t been adding as much money to your 401k because you need the extra cash, use your tax refund as that extra cash and start contributing more.
  • Attack other debt. If you don’t have any credit card debt, tackle some other debt you may have such as student loan debt, car loans, personal debt, or whatever else you are paying a high interest on.

Make Improvements

  • Get a car check-up. Get an inspection to see how your car is holding up. In many cases, it is cheaper to keep your car in good condition than to make expensive repairs later on.
  • Make your home more energy efficient. Energy efficient appliances and even light bulbs can not only make your bill less expensive every month, but you’ll also be improving the environment.
  • Take a cooking class. Clueless in the kitchen? Sign up for a class so you can learn to cook at home to save money.

Make a Purchase That Will Pay Off Later

  • Buy durable winter gear. Getting a tax refund usually means spring is about to come, which means winter gear is on sale. Stock up on durable items that are probably on clearance such as boots, coats, gloves, and other necessities if you live in a place that has winters. Now could also be the time to purchase a good quality shovel or snow blower.
  • Invest in some cooking supplies. Purchase items that you feel you are lacking with in the kitchen. If a new pot or utensil is keeping you from cooking at home, buy it. Swapping out eating at restaurants and picking up fast food with budget-meal planning and preparing food at home will save you more money. Plus, if you do it right, it can be healthier and end up also lowering doctor bills later on.
  • Purchase a bike. Once you purchase a bike, you now have access to entertainment and a new, free way to exercise. Plus, if you are able to use the bike as transportation, you can save hundreds per year on costs of gas, parking, and car maintenance.
  • Buy durable walking shoes. A good pair of walking shoes can save you money on gas and other car costs as well as public transportation. Plus, once you have walking shoes, you now have free exercise.

Improve Your Career

  • Take a class. Check out local colleges or programs that offer classes applicable to your career. Take a class that can improve your skills and make you a more marketable employee.
  • Join a professional organization. Whatever your career or profession is, chances are there is a professional organization near you. While they often require a fee, you can have access to informative presentations, valuable networking events, speakers, career advice from fellow members, and more.
  • Start that business you’ve been putting off. If you’ve been wanting to start a project or new business but haven’t started because you didn’t have the money, now is your chance to get it going.

Improve Your Health

  • Get a check-up. If you’ve been putting off visiting a doctor for a check-up because of lack of money, use this money to go and get checked out. Did You Know You Can Get Free Preventive Care?
  • Stock up on healthy food. Stock up on healthy foods that you normally don’t purchase because they are a few dollars extra.
  • Make a healthy purchase. What is a reasonable purchase that could improve your health? Maybe a gym membership would make you stick to a work out routine. Would a smoothie maker help you drink a healthy concoction every day? A new pair of running shoes, a yoga mat, some free weights, vitamins, or work out DVDs are just a few options.
  • Take a fitness class. Whether it is a dance class or learning how to meditate, take a class that will improve your health.

Enjoy Yourself

  • Try something new. If you’ve been putting off doing something fun and trying a new adventure, now is the time. It doesn’t have to be a pricey vacation or something expensive.
  • Plan five date nights. Improve your relationship with your spouse or significant other by using some of that money to plan five cheap date nights. Invest in your relationship to keep it healthy and strong.
  • Have a potluck for your friends. Invite your friends over for some quality time. Use some of the money to supply some basics, but also ask they bring an appetizer to save you money. Having good friends and working on these relationships is an essential part of your well-being.
  • Visit a family member. While some people may be tempted to book a trip to Las Vegas or a beach getaway, instead, plan a trip to visit a family member you haven’t seen in a while. As long as it is a healthy, rewarding relationship, it is important to maintain relationships with your family members. Vegas will always be there later. Plus, staying with family in a new area is a great way to take a break from where you live, see a new area, but skipping the cost of lodging.

What are you doing with your tax refund this year? What are some of the best things you think people can do with their refund?

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