You might have gotten a tax return this year. There’s actually a pretty good chance you did. The second that cash hits your account, your mind goes wild with ideas. You should save it for later, tuck it away. Or go to the Caribbean. Or buy a bunch of awesome shoes. Or disappear for a long weekend somewhere beautiful. Or put it into a savings account, because that would be the adult thing to do.
Should you blow your tax return? If not, how will you save it?
Should you save your tax return?
So, maybe you should save your tax return. There is going to be a day when you really wish you had more money. That day might be everyday, but trust me, one day, the urge will be real and you will wish (or be happy) that you have something saved. Whether you fall off a rollercoaster and break every bone in your body or just need some cash to float from one month to another, it’s good to save a little.
Or, if you weren’t expecting this tax return, have a moderate amount in savings, and really want something, you could blow it on something fruggin’ awesome! That’s right. Something so awesome you’d have to frug. You can spend it on travel, some cool stuff, or a car!
As long as you really want it, and aren’t just purchasing it based on the awesome advertising it has, go ham! Do what makes you happy. A lot of advertising is tied to feelings and not rational thought (and boy is it effective!). If you’re going to go crazy, consider why you want what you are purchasing, and how it will affect your long-term happiness, before you splurge it all on one thing.
Travel is great to spend money on. It’s an experience, not a thing. It’s a time to relax, it gives you some time to detox from social media, and build fun memories. There’s a ton of great places to go, and it can be surprisingly affordable. It doesn’t even have to be right after you get that fat check back from the government.
Experiencing the world is a great way to spend that bonus cash. Think about the long sandy beaches rimmed with jutting mossy cliffs, the dewy morning hikes to the hidden stone temples of Angkor Wat, the long shadowed cobblestone alleyways in your grandmother’s Old Country, or even staying domestic for some fantastic American pastimes, like RVing or adventure sports. The beautiful things you could see, the amount of unwind your brain could use, and the things you never know you needed to see are waiting out in the world.
Time to waste your money on cool schtuff you want!
Do you want to fly a drone around to your friend’s house to deliver them small packages? Or spy on that one person that you hate who you swear is farting in your mailbox? You can do all of these things with a hobbyist drone and some light training. Yeah, you might definitely need some training.
Do you want dangerous looking shoes everyday of your life? Learn how to bedazzle leather and bling up every pair of shoes you have with big spikes. That actually won’t be that expensive. Just some light crafting. Bedazzling everything you own, probably a little expensive.
Buy something you want to do more of: surfing, hiking, camping, or boxing! You could go for a surfboard, if you live by the coast (which many Americans do) it’s never too late to start. Get some hiking or camping gear, even dig into last season’s clearance before it’s gone (because camping gear hasn’t advanced that much in 6 months). Invest in a class that’s expensive, that you want to do and will go to. Whether that’s boxing, krav maga, or aerial yoga. If it’s normally to expensive to float, now is a great time to treat yo’ self to something fun that you continue to use throughout the year. Also, have you seen how awesome aerial yoga is!?
Trading in your car isn’t a bad idea either. If you’d love to drive along some windy old highway in a classic convertible, with a long flowing scarf and some big cat-eye glasses, then you might be a killer mechanic (older cars require a little love). If you just want your transportation costs to go down, investing in an electric car, or choosing a newer model that requires less month-to-month costs could save you cash-money in the long run. It’s a reasonable investment if the initial spend equates to less spent over time. It’s not a bad idea, plus you can show off your shiny new car and intimidate people at the stop light.
Okay, so maybe you don’t want to blow your tax return. How are you planning on saving it? Leaving it in your checking account means that it gets spent dollar by dollar instead of on something big and awesome. Putting it aside in a housing fund, starting a separate saving account, or chucking it all in your retirement fund will stop your tax refund from being spent on your Uber addiction in a city with good public transport, or a 7 am coffee from that really nice place when you could’ve waited until work.
You could put away some cash for a house. Houses can be a smart investment. It’s cheaper than renting if you stay in one place for more than 3 years, it builds equity, and it’s a good backup for old age (you’ll pay property tax, but no rent). Starting to save for a house is a step towards wealth-building and the American dream. If that’s what you’re into.
Or if you already own your home, you could use the money on improvements around the house. There are some renovations that will be better for you, and your home. Choosing to go green, seal in heat, or weatherize will help you save money and add value to your home.
Buying a home below market will help you build equity and put something tangible behind you. It could all get swept up in a hurricane, or you could make a killing in real estate.
You could put the money in a separate saving account, and let it ride until you need it. As long as you don’t keep it in your immediate ‘for use’ checkings account or where ever you put your spendable money, it will help you. You could put it in government bonds, play with some smart stocks, or leave it to rot in a box inside your mattress, that you will only remember when you finally get rid of your mattress for being so uncomfortable (hint: it was probably the box). Putting money aside, out of reach, or out of sight is important to saving it. It avoids the temptation and cash availability of having it all within reach.
You could also do exactly what a responsible adult would do and put it all into retirement. Old you would appreciate it. Plus, if your retirement is planned out well and you leave it alone, that money will grow. Compound interest on that Roth!!!! Be a ballin’ old woman, get a fancy cane, tell young folks how hard it was, and do not take financial advice from an internet article.
Before you make any big decisions to save/spend your money, consider talking to a financial advisor, see what sort of retirement options are available to you, and think about what you want to do with your money. It’s your choice. Spend or save?
Guest Blog: Mary Grace