12 Clever Ways to Maximize Your Tax Refund Dollars
Feeling a little cold and depressed this winter? Looking for some effective ways to perk up your mood? Why not consider using your upcoming tax refund to make some simple changes in your life? In 2016, the average tax refund check came out to a whopping $2,782. Regardless of the size of the refund coming to you, you undoubtedly want to make the most of it to improve your life and your winter mood.
While most taxpayers tend to splurge with their refund money, careful management of these funds is a smart and responsible financial move. If you are one of those individuals that wants smart solutions for your tax refund, here are 12 intelligent ways to maximize this year’s tax refund dollars.
1. Build A Nest Egg For Emergencies.
Most experts agree that an emergency savings account should contain three to six months of income. This may seem like an intimidating number. However, there is no need to worry if you can’t swing that much cash all at once. Financial advisers suggest that even a small emergency fund is better than no emergency fund at all. So if you don’t have one, take a portion of your tax refund dollars and start stashing it away in an emergency account. You will most likely be happy you put the funds aside when unexpected expenses pop up.
2. Tackle Some Home Improvement Projects.
Have you been putting off those little projects around the house because you don’t have the cash? Most homeowners are unaware that for as little as $1,000, they can pay for quite a few smaller home improvements that could greatly improve both their home and their overall quality of life. Consider installing new fixture in the bathroom or kitchen, repainting a room, putting in some fresh landscaping, buying a new energy efficient thermostat, or organizing a cluttered garage. All of these inexpensive tasks can increase the value of your home, while helping you and your family enjoy it more as well.
3. Pay Off Some Debt.
With an average interest rate of well over 15% on new credit cards, most of us don’t realize how much money we are actually throwing away on credit card bills. Want a smart solution to this common problem? Try paying down your credit card debt with your tax refund. Some other smart debt solutions include paying down car loans, taking a bigger chunk out of your mortgage, or paying off the last parts of smaller student loans. Just make sure you don’t accrue penalties for paying those debts off early.
4. Start A Retirement Account.
You may already have a 401K through work, but did you know you can and should open an individual retirement account (IRA) to supplement your retirement account? You will want to be sure that you and your spouse make less than the required limits. Consult a local tax professional to learn about the monetary limitations and how much you can set aside in these types of accounts. Your future self will thank you for your foresight when you are older.
5. Get A Side Hustle Going.
In today’s uncertain workplace, many workers give themselves an added degree of security by starting a side hustle. It can be as simple as driving for Uber a few hours a week, or as complex as starting a home business, but side hustles allow many of us an outlet for creativity along with added money for the future. Consider using your tax refund to invest in some equipment for a crafting business or a new fuel efficient vehicle to drive for a rideshare platform in your spare time. The little bit of cash you spend up front could ultimately result in a big payoff down the road.
6. Consider Increasing Your Insurance Coverage.
We all know someone who has lived through an earthquake or a flood. We also know people that have lost everything because they did not have sufficient insurance for a home or personal possession. But did you know that less than $1,000 can provide flood insurance for most low to medium flood risk areas? Alternatively, most people can also purchase an umbrella insurance policy with $1 million in added coverage beyond car or homeowner’s insurance for less than $500. Consult your local insurance agency for some simple solutions to your insurance questions and don’t ignore those “what-if” questions, safe is definitely better than sorry.
7. Trade Your Gas Guzzler For An Electric Vehicle.
You may love your car and spend a great deal of time in it, but is it syphoning off your money because it isn’t gas efficient? Consider taking a bit of your tax refund money to trade your gas-powered car in for an electric one. In most instances, a small out-of-pocket investment is required, but that is usually offset by the amount of money you save each month in gas. Many buyers can also qualify for tax credits by switching over to a fuel-efficient vehicle.
8. Look Into Switching Your Home to Solar Power.
With the cost of electric power rising each year, it is no wonder that many of us are looking for alternatives to paying the high costs of electricity. If you are one of these folks, consider using part of your tax refund to switch to solar power. Many solar companies will start the process with little or no money down and a low monthly payment. Ultimately, the savings could be quite substantial in the long term for a few initial dollars up front.
9. Pick A Worthy Local Charity.
One characteristic of those who practice good money management, is choosing to share some of your wealth with those who are less fortunate than you. If you are one of those individuals looking for a perfect opportunity to donate to a worthy charity, using your tax refund could be the perfect solution. Do your research to ensure the organization you choose has a long and legitimate history of giving, and always save the receipts when you donate, so you have the necessary documentation for tax deductions the following year.
10. Replace Those Inefficient Appliances.
Is your old refrigerator bringing you down? Does your washer-dryer combo take up too much energy as it dries your household items half way? If you answered yes, you should think about donating your old appliances. Many organizations will come to your home to pick up the donations and provide you with your tax deductible paperwork. When it’s all said and done, you will get to enjoy a brand new appliance, and those hefty utility bills could be much lower.
11. Start A Savings Account For A Special Occasion.
Are you looking to take a vacation in the coming year? Would you like to take the plunge and get married? Is a new house in your future? If you answered yes to any of these questions, a savings account for special occasions is a must. Experts suggest that you should keep the money separate from your regular bank account so you will be less likely to use it for random splurges or everyday necessities.
12. Spend Some Cash To Improve Yourself.
If you have always wanted to take college classes or learn a useful skill in continued adult education, you should consider splurging on a class or two. Your tax refund could be the perfect investment in your most valuable commodity, yourself. Additionally, a new skill could aid in that promotion you have always wanted at work or improve your quality of family life.
You may have already earmarked your tax refund for some expensive clothing or new electronics. Treating yourself is always nice, but with so many smart alternatives, consider making the most of your tax refund with one of the above suggestions and you never know how much you could potentially gain.