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6 Ways to Use Your Tax Refund

6 Ways to Use Your Tax Refund

There’s a little over a month left for this tax season and many of have already gotten or are expecting a tax refund. Usually I use my tax withholding as a forced savings account and use the refund to buy myself something nice, like a computer (last year) or a small vacation (2010). Instead of splurging, here are six ways to use your tax refund that will help your frugal lifestyle and budget in the long run.

10 Percent for Fun

One of the hardest things to do when you’re living on a budget is to not indulge yourself when you get a windfall like a tax refund. So take 10 percent of your refund and treat yourself to something you want. This way you still get to spoil yourself a little, but can spend most of your money on something more practical.

Pay Down Debt

Since interest rates on investments aren’t very high these days, paying down your debt is a better financial move. Use your tax refund to pay down any debt you have, starting with high interest accounts first. Or, use the snowball method, which will eliminate smaller debts first.

Emergency Fund

If you don’t have an emergency fund, now is a great time to start. An emergency fund is more important than regular savings because this will help you get through any emergencies, like your car breaking down, and is only used for truly disastrous events.

Retirement

Add your tax refund to your retirement savings, 401k or IRA, or whatever else you have. If you don’t have anything setup yet, start now. Even small additions in long term retirement savings can really add up, especially if you’re in your twenties or thirties.

Prepay Bills

Use your tax refund to prepay some of your bills, like insurance, or add it to a savings account for auto-withdrawal of your car payment; this is actually what I did this year, so it seems like I don’t have a car payment every month.

Invest in Yourself

Get new glasses or go see the dentist you’ve been putting off. Use the money to invest in yourself and your overall health and appearance. Upgrade your wardrobe. Get new carpet. Buy a new vacuum cleaner. Get a new washer and dryer. All of these things will make your life easier every day. The trick is to ask yourself what you’ve been wanting and needing all year long that you have put off for financial reasons.

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