Oh March. It’s the time of year where you are reconsidering resolutions, looking forward to the end of winter, planning for spring break, and oh yes, tax refunds. Yes, tax season is upon us. For those of us who have standard employment, those long awaited w-2’s should have arrived by now, now we wait for our refunds on overpaid taxes in 2017. Now, we know it can be tempting to treat yourself with those extra coins but, we have some tips on how you can put your money to work and maximize your tax refund this year.
Tip 1: Make a deposit into the emergency fund you’ve been meaning to start.
Saving for a rainy day is one of those things that we know we should do, but few of us have taken the steps to start. According to financial experts, your initial emergency fund should be at least $1,000. And beyond that, depending on your personal lifestyle and circumstances, between 3 – 6 months of income. Whether you’ve started your emergency fund or have been putting it off until you had a little extra money, using your tax refund is a great way to get started and cover yourself in case of an emergency.
Tip 2: Get smart about mutual funds and invest in one.
If your emergency account is funded, a great way to make use of your tax refund is to turn your attention to investing. Here’s a hard truth ladies, the wage gap is real and it affects us both now, and in the future. As women we need to take control of our money sooner than later. While mutual funds, investing, and other financial topics can feel overwhelming, there is so much information available to help you get informed. You can even sign up with an investment company like ElleVest to help you get started and get smart with your money.
Tip 3: Pay off those Christmas 2017 credit card charges.
Who else understands the love/hate relationship with credit cards? Sure, they are awesome when needed and used responsibly, but credit card debt is never fun. If you’ve racked up a balance buying gifts for your friends and loved ones during the Christmas season, you’re not alone. The good news is, you can use your tax refund to pay off, or at least pay down, some of those higher balances. Trust us, you’ll feel lighter when you’re done.
Tip 4: Plan a short vacation or staycation.
All set with your savings, investments, and debt? Great! It’s time to have a little fun. It may be tempting to run out and splurge on those shoes you’ve been eyeing. But, before you go shopping, pull out that travel bucket list and see if a quick trip is possible with your tax refund. Make sure to check to flight deal sites to see if any of your wishful destinations have cheap flights. And if traveling is off the table, a staycation at an upscale spot in your city or the next town over is a great way to get away and get refreshed.
Tip 5: Home improvement projects.
This is one of my favorite things to do with my tax refunds. They say home is where the heart is, so take some of that “bonus” money to upgrade yours. You can tackle those things that are a bit more expensive like new flooring or a bathroom remodel. Or you can keep things simple with fresh coat of paint and some new decor items to elevate your space.
Tip 6: Sign up for a class or certificate program.
No matter where you are in life or your career, you should always continue learning. Brushing up on skills you know, learning some news that you don’t, or even getting certified in an certain area is a great way to stimulate your mind and your resume. Use your tax refund to enroll in a coaching program, take a creative course, or get a special certification. Make yourself more marketable and stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Tip 7: Donate to your favorite charitable organization.
For those who have, give. As we’re getting tax refunds, getting raises, and excelling in life, it’s important that we remember to give back as well. If all of your other are bases covered, donate some of your tax refund to your favorite charity or local nonprofit organization. Every donation counts so whatever you can do to help those in need is appreciated.