Even though you’re expecting it, it still presents itself as something of a surprise. You open your banking app and there it is, that beautiful + sign and the number you’ve been mentally spending for the last two weeks.
Your tax refund has arrived.
Now, what to do with it?
Something responsible. Ugh. Seriously?
Yes, seriously. Hear us out:
1. Prop Up Your Emergency Fund
If you don’t have an Emergency Fund, or a smaller fund than you’d like, this is where you should move your money. An emergency fund should be a savings account that does not have a debit card attached to it. Put your money in it, and let it ride.
Then, when you’re knocked off your bike and need to be stitched up or your car decides it wants a new carburetor, you’ll have the funds to cover the expense.
2. Pay Down Your Debt
Any high interest debt should come first. If you have any pay day loans or high-interest retail cards, pay those bills first (or as much of it that your refund will allow). Then, work toward credit cards.
If you are able to clear that debt, put any money you’ve been putting toward your credit cards into an emergency fund – the idea being that you won’t need to hike that card balance up again if there’s money in the bank.
3. Put Your Tax Refund into Tax Sheltered Accounts
Tax sheltered accounts? Sounds fancy, but you might already have one. A Roth IRA is one such account – you put taxed income into an account and won’t be taxed when you take it out at retirement.
A 529 College Savings Plan is another example. Contribute to your child’s college fund now, and you won’t be taxed when you take out the money for their education (but you will be penalized if the money is withdrawn for anything other than educational expenses).
4. Put the Money Toward Home Improvements
The point of these home improvements is to increase your home’s equity. Buying a new couch is not an equity-building home improvement. Fixing your cracked cement work is. Choose wisely, and do research for your area.
5. Give to Your Favorite Charity
Yes, giving is tax deductible (although with the new tax rules, you probably won’t be itemizing your deductions for your 2019 taxes).
But that’s not the point. The point is that giving is something you have probably wanted to do but might not have been able to do during the year. Now that you have a little extra money, catch up. Spread your money, and goodwill, throughout the community.
6. Give Yourself a Little Something-Something
Don’t forget yourself. This isn’t splurge time. This is small pleasure time. An extra lunch out. A couple of baseball tickets (the nose bleed seats). A pedicure.
Reward yourself for a good year and remind yourself that you still have money for you, even when you’re spending the bulk of it very well.
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