Let’s start here. According to the IRS, the average tax return for 2015 currently sits at about $3,500.00. Holy smokes!! When I think about that kind of money I realized I have never used my own refund for fun stuff. I always spend my income tax refund on the NOT so fun stuff, or I would save it for a rainy day. Sigh.
Okay. It’s already May. You were focused. You were diligent. You got right on those taxes because you’re going to get back a boat load. YESSS! You just couldn’t wait to get your hands on those “bills” – the green bills with numbers in the corner…not real bills. 🙂
So here’s the thing. If you got your money by direct deposit (and over 96% of you did), I bet you’ve already spent it or are well on your way, right? This is what typically happens; you get your money and you feel rich. It’s “freebie money”…but not really. That tax amount comes out of each check and when it does, it almost makes you cringe. Man…it sure carves a deep divot out those paycheck digits, doesn’t it? There. Now do you remember where it came from? It’s your money – you worked for it.
So…Where Is It?
Stop yourself…you heard me.
- Did you take all your friends out to dinner (of course, with many bottles of nice wine) and pick up the tab?
- You bought that expensive purse you’ve always wanted? Or those jeans?
- Maybe you totally splurged and went on an outrageous spending spree.
- I know, did you upgrade your car for a bad-ass sexy one?
- How about the casino? Did you go there? Oh boy. And bought expensive drinks to boot?
- You loaned someone money. (You know you ain’t getting it back, right?)
- Or worse yet…You spent it before you got it!
- I COULD GO ON, AND ON…but I won’t. You get the picture.
People! Stop it. Your tax refund IS NOT a bonus. You let Uncle Sam “use” your money all year long and you better be thankful he didn’t lose it and I hope you’re glad he saved it for you (and you better believe he invested it while using it), and now it’s time for you to get it back.
You should still have some fun for yourself though. I’m not really a meany.
What To Do…What To Do?
Go ahead, still buy yourself a little something – but be smart with the rest. I can honestly say I’ve never spent my money on frivolous things. I wish I could say I have, but I just can’t (or don’t want to) afford it. So I always do the responsible thing. Yeah, I know…no fun allowed in my household.
Like I said…go ahead and buy yourself a little “something pretty”. Then; here are a few good ideas on what to do with the rest of your money.
Add to or start an emergency fund (my personal favorite)
- So smart! I’ve always put away a good portion this way (about 1/3 of my total). I leave it alone and let it add up over the years. When I’ve been laid off from jobs, this money was a lifesaver. Unemployment benefits have a way of not covering all of your bills. Scary.
Pay off those high interest credit cards
- Reduce or eliminate that credit card debt! It’s a money-muncher. A $5,000 balance paying the typical 4% minimum monthly payment will take you 164 months (that’s almost 14 years) to pay off and will cost you…almost $9,000! Do you want to “give away” $4,000?? I don’t think you do. Play around with this Credit Card Minimum Payment Calculator from BankRate and see where you fall. I’m just saying!
Pay one (1) extra mortgage payment per year towards the principal and save TONS on interest
- Here’s what my mortgage broker told me when we bought our home last year…(yes, I wrote it down – it was the most important information I’ve ever received). He said, “if you make one extra payment per year towards the principal – you can pay your home off 7 years sooner and SAVE $22,340 in interest. WHEW! Okay. So you know what I’m thinking? I’m gonna try to make TWO extra payments a year. I love that kind of math! Here’s a mortgage calculator, go ahead and play around with it here.
Spend it on something you truly need
- You’ll have to define the difference between “need” and “want” in your particular situation. But to me, things like getting your car fixed, or new gutters so you don’t destroy your homes wood frame, energy efficiency upgrades, or maybe finally getting that expensive dental work you need. You know, stuff like that.
Replace that energy sucking appliance
- And don’t forget…you might be able to take a tax credit for it next year.
Invest that hard earned money and save towards your retirement
- Not a savings account…a real investment. Talk with your investment advisor, or if you’re employer has a retirement plan, head into HR and start or add to your retirement. Do it today.
Use it to start a business
- That’s what I did – it’s what I really wanted. I purchased a new laptop and joined Wealthy Affiliate to help me start and grow my on-line affiliate marketing business. Read my review about Wealthy Affiliate here. Best money I ever spent…and I LOVE it. I started my own business so I could take control of my life and my finances. Also the write offs you can get with an in-home business are pretty cool. Win. Win.
Your Found Money
It really is okay to treat your tax refund as found money – a bonus if you will. I don’t mean to be harsh with my introductory rhetoric. I just, so passionately, want you to hold on to your hard earned money. You blood, sweat and teared over that money all year long and I just want you to be smart with it.
Did you already get your refund this year? If so, how did you spend it? Will you share with us, we won’t judge. 🙂 Or, are you still waiting for your refund to arrive? What do you plan to do with yours?
Whatever you decide to do with that tax refund, just remember this…treat yourself with financial security, and treat yourself with great importance, because you are!
Until next time…