The bad news: it’s tax time. The good news: you’ll most likely receive a tax refund. (According to H&R Block, nearly 80-percent of tax filers in the United States get a federal tax refund.) Here at Masiello Employment, we absolutely understand the spend-me-now temptation of a refund—no matter how big or small it may be—so we created a Tax Refund Edition of Do’s and Don’t-You-Dares just for you!
Do… Treat this money with respect. A tax refund is the excess of your paid taxes returned you—it’s money you’ve earned, not a bonus or an unexpected windfall to be seen as free money.
Don’t-You-Dare… Blow it on a whim. If the money is burning a hole in your pocket, deposit it and take your time before making a serious purchase; for instance, if you want a huge, state-of-the-art television, make sure you can truly afford it—and still afford everything else you need—and then buy it (bonus points if you wait until it’s on sale).
Do… Consider investing the money into your career or your job search (for instance, you could pay for a single class—or an entire degree program—to qualify for a promotion or your dream job). Or better yet, invest in some new duds so you look your best come interview time.
Don’t-You-Dare… Ignore the feeling that you should be saving for a rainy day. Forbes reports that 63-percent of Americans don’t have enough in their savings account to cover an unplanned event costing $500. If possible, start or supplement your Emergency Fund and give yourself a safety net.
Do… Consider donating some or all of the money to charities that are important to you—especially those that may soon lose federal funding/support—if you can afford it. Even better? Many charitable donations are indeed tax deductible.
Don’t-You-Dare… Engage in a series of small splurges. Let’s say you get a tax refund of $2,860 (the average refund in 2016, as reported by the IRS)—just because you think of that refund every time you go out to dinner, go on vacation, buy an new outfit, etc., etc., it doesn’t mean that money actually covers every expense. If you’re going to splurge, know exactly what the money can cover and set a clear limit. Remember, these kinds of splurges add up—fast!
Do… Consider using the money to pay off any debt you may have, whether it’s a student loan or an outstanding credit card balance.
Don’t-You-Dare… Get your tax refund in the form of a gift card, if available. There’s an incentive, of course (the gift card value will be slightly higher than the dollar value) but the downside is you’re much more inclined to spend frivolously, looking at it as store credit rather than your hard-earned money in card form; there’s also the chance you could lose the gift card, therefore eliminating your entire refund.
Do… Consider making your home more energy efficient. This is a short-term expense that leads to long-term reductions in some expenses—over the years, these savings really add up in your savings account!
So enjoy that additional cash, and if you end up owing – our condolences. Be sure to mind our advice, and your decision about how to handle your tax refund won’t be so, well, taxing.