If you’re expecting a tax refund this year, you’ve probably got a few ideas as to how you’re going to spend it. Maybe you’re looking to get a new tattoo, or maybe you want to buy some video games or new rims for your car. Maybe before you get your sights set on a frivolous purchase, however, you should start thinking about smart ways to spend your tax refund. There are better ways to spend a sudden windfall than on something frivolous and goofy!
Smart Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund
Set Up an Emergency Fund
Do you have a savings account with $1,000 in it? No? Okay, here’s the first thing you need to do with that money. Take your tax refund, set aside $1,000 and save it. If you have money leftover after that, pay bills with it. Easy! See, having a savings account with a good little chunk of money in it is a good way to insulate yourself against those dumb, random things that are going to happen and drain your checking account.
Your car is going to break down. Your heater is going to stop working in February. Or, your AC is going to bust in July. No matter what it is, some stupid happenstance will come along and smack you with a huge bill. Be ready for these frustrating moments by having money set aside to deal with them when (not if) they show up.
Pay Down Debt
That debt you have hovering over your head like the Sword of Damocles isn’t going anywhere until you do something about it. Kick that debt to the curb by paying your tax refund into it! The sooner you start paying down those big debts, the better. The longer your let those debts float by with minimum payments, the higher and higher the interest gets.
That means that by focusing a large sum, like your tax refund, you buy back all the money that interest would have eaten up down the road. Why let interest compound and cause you issues down the line when you can buy back your money now? It’s the definition of a win-win scenario.
Fix Up Your House
You spend a lot of time at home. Make sure it’s a place you like being. By making your house nicer, you’re actually helping yourself in two ways. The first way is pretty straightforward: you like living in your house, so make it a nice place. The second is a bit more financial in nature. If you invest in your home, it’ll be worth more down the line!
This especially goes for homes in areas that have ever-increasing property values. If your home is always going up, up, up in value just because of where it is, you can multiply this value a lot by just doing a bit of work on the place. A new roof, repairs to older sections of the house, a kitchen remodel: all of these things can add a ton of value to the place. What better time to do this kind of work than when you have the money free at hand?
Rather than spending your money on something like a new TV or a down payment on a car, you could instead opt to go on a trip. There’s nothing quite like traveling to a new place and enjoying the scenery! Whether that’s some beautiful tropical island, a mountain ski lodge or just a city you’ve been dying to visit.
See, when you buy “stuff,” the fun of buying the new thing wears off sooner rather than later. Then, you find a few months down the line wishing that you hadn’t spent all that money on something you’re just going to replace next year anyway. If you pay for a trip, however, you’ll make memories that will last you a lifetime.
Donate the Money
Do you have a hard time figuring out what to do with a sudden windfall? Maybe you’ve got a good bit of money in savings and you don’t really have the time to go out of town for a long trip. Maybe your house is already up to a great standard and you’re at a loss for what to do with the money.
Well, good news! You can donate that money to a good cause. If you’re passionate about a social issue of some kind, like homeless shelters or cancer research, you can donate that tax refund money and make a difference in the world! You can even write it off on next year’s taxes and repeat the cycle of giving.