It can seem like Christmas when that tax refund comes rolling in. You’re hyped and daydreaming about what to do with that wad of cash, which is often nearly $3,000. Do you do you, do good or do foolish—blow it? There are a lot of options. The experts weigh in with some of their ideas for the right way to go.
START A BUSINESS
You have a hobby, skill or interests that could mean more money in the bank. You’ve been thinking about it for a while but need a little capital to get going. If you’re artistic and crafty, an Etsy.com store is just a click away. Whatever your passion, go for it. “It’s a perfect time to use that refund to start a lawn-care service, grocery-shopping service, and there are also huge opportunities for selling and brokering used goods like toys and sporting goods that can be purchased at garage sales and resold on and offline,” says Steve Siebold, author of How Rich People Think.
BECOME A LENDER
It’s better to lend than to borrow. Play banker. “A great way to diversify your portfolio is to invest in a peer-to-peer lending. Not only are you helping out a person in need, you get a nice return as a result,” says Mina Ennin Black, founder of WealthEssentials Money Management, who points to Prosper and Lending Club as places to get in the game.
GET FIT AND HEALTHY
“Taking control of your weight and overall health is the fastest way to ascend to world-class success in all areas of your life,” says Siebold. Invest in exercise equipment, a gym membership, dance or kickboxing classes,anything that will get your body into motion. “Not only will you feel better, but that confidence will carry over into everything you do. Your level of success in your career, relationships and everything else will drastically improve,” he says. Or give yourself a break. See how many months of a maid service you can buy.
FEED YOUR FANTASIES
Maybe you want to play the saxophone or violin, so splurge on lessons and an instrument. You’ve been hanging out at museums and lusting, so make a small purchase to begin your art collection. If you are the biggest fan ever, use the extra cash for tickets to games, or if you’re a music and theater lover, get a subscription for the season.
DEAL WITH DEBT
Use your refund to pay down or pay off a debt that has a high interest rate or a burdensome balance—whichever is giving you the most grief. Paying interest is a waste of money. Give yourself the gift of peace of mind.
MINIMIZE YOUR MORTGAGE
Interest rates for mortgages won’t stay below 4% forever. If you still have a high-interest mortgage, a refund could cover most or all of your refinancing costs. “In some cases, refinancing could save thousands of dollars in interest charges over the life of the mortgage,” says Kevin Gallegos, vice president of the Freedom Financial Network. You could also use your refund to make an extra mortgage payment or two. “Not only do you save on interest costs, but you possibly shave six to eight years off your mortgage by making an extra payment each year,” says Ennin Black.
OTHER HELPFUL TIPS
Other great tips include making contributions to prioritize your retirement, kid’s college education, create an emergency fund, giving to charity, or if you can’t make up your mind about what to do, divide the proceeds into thirds. Says Sara Gilbert, a counselor with GreenPath Debt Solutions, “Put some toward savings, debt and then splurge. That way, you make progress on several financial fronts.”
–By Sheryl Nance Nash