Written by Tancy Campbell
It’s Tax Return Season!
Time to cash in on all those taxes you’ve paid throughout the past year. While some of us dread this time of year, others are all too excited to have some extra cash on hand. The excitement lasts all but a second. We end up spending it on things we don’t even care about. Then we are left wondering what happened to the money! Before you get your refund let’s look at some smart ways to leverage your money and make it work for you.
1. Start an Emergency Fund
According to the Federal Reserve, 39 percent of Americans would not be able to cover a $400 emergency. Most emergencies are considerably more expensive than $400. Not having a sizable emergency fund can set you up for a financial crisis. Are you a part of that 39 percent? If so ask yourself would you rather spend money on things that are temporary or would you rather have a sense of financial peace? If you’ve sided with the idea of financial peace, good for you. Open a high-interest savings account and put all or most of your refund inside. When the next emergency arises you will be prepared.
2. Pay off Debt
If you have debt, this is a major opportunity for you to jumpstart your debt-free journey. Debt is a crisis in the United States. Between student loans and mounds of consumer debt, many Americans are struggling to stay above water. Using your tax refund to pay off a small debt could be just the motivation you need to get the ball rolling toward debt freedom. Pick a debt and pay it off.
3. Invest in Long Term Goals
Are you preparing to buy a home soon? Or have a baby? Maybe you want to take an exotic family vacation? If so, Tax Refund Season is a great time to get ahead on these long-term goals. Take the time to open up separate savings accounts. When creating the savings account, give each one a name. Italy Trip 2020, Master Bath Reno, Kylie’s Sweet 16, etc. are perfect examples when naming your account. This personalizes the process and motivates you to contribute more.
4. Pay Down Your Mortgage
Most of us have 30-year mortgages, but you don’t have to pay on your mortgage for that long. By paying extra money toward the principal of your mortgage, you can easily cut years off of your loan time. Before you take this step, reach out to your lender to see the best way to make this extra payment. You want them to understand you are making extra payments toward the principal. If you are interested in seeing how much you could shave off of your loan check out this Mortgage Loan Calculator.
5. Get Caught Up On Bills
If you’ve ever suffered a job loss or been out of work for an extended amount of time, you know that it sucks. You quickly get behind on everything while trying to survive. Get caught up on your bills. Call all your creditors and bill companies to arrange lower payoff amounts. Some may take into consideration hardship and lower your balance.
6. Pay Back Loved Ones
There are people in our lives who have been kind enough to loan us money to help cover a need. If you are in a position to do so, pay them back. By doing so you are establishing yourself as a responsible individual and a loving friend and family member.
7. Invest In Yourself
Many of us are working so hard to pour into our jobs and families that we forget to pour into ourselves. Take a little time and effort to develop a new skill set, meet with a therapist, or hire a life coach. Other great ideas include attending seminars and workshops, taking a course, getting a certification, or buying a gym membership. If you are not there yet, consider using a subscription platform that offers audiobooks and ebooks. This currently is my favorite way of investing in myself so that I can learn on the go.
8. Start A Side Hustle
This is your chance! You’ve been thinking about a passion project for quite some time and what better time to start a side business. Whether it is investing in equipment, a blogging course, or your coaching license, what better way to invest than in entrepreneurship. A couple of years back I invested in a sewing machine and fabric. With the help of YouTube, I taught myself to sew and operate my machine. I then opened an Etsy shop and began to use it as an opportunity to bring in extra income for my family.
(Bonus) Treat Yourself
Now, how many of you skipped the other steps and came straight to this one? It’s okay, I completely understand.Some of you may have had it rough financially over the last year. Or have worked hard at paying off debt and building your emergency fund and just want to enjoy a little bit of your tax refund. I’m here for it. It is completely okay to want to do something frivolous with the tax refund. I support that. Just be sure to spend in moderation and put the rest to work.
All in all, I just want to remind you to consider your goals when divvying up your Tax Refund check. While the fun thing to do is go on a random girls’ trip to Cabo, the responsible thing to do is level up your financial situation.