Have you ever gotten your tax refund and thought to yourself, it’s time to go shopping? I have. Growing up, my mom would take a large part of her refund and she and I would go on a shopping spree…even if it meant driving from mall to mall to find a wider selection or hanging out on a school night. That is how I grew up thinking about refund checks… like some sort of magical windfall of new shoes, purses, and dresses. Now fast forward to the present, I now know it’s better to try to break even than to get a fat refund. In reality, if you are receiving a large refund then you are paying too much in taxes throughout the year.
Divide and Conquer Your Money
If you are like me and you know you will be getting a refund of some sort, it is important to find a better way to spend your money than blowing it on a new tv or handbag. Before you even receive your refund, you should already have an idea of what you may be getting back. Take this time to divide your money, so when you actually received it, you will be less likely to blow it recklessly because you have already decided where it is going. For some, this will take some serious financial discipline, but in the end, it’s worth it! I plan to make my money work for me by using these four categories below to get me started.
Fund your funds. If you don’t have an emergency fund of at least $1000, now is the time to start paying yourself. You should think of this fund like those Chinese finger traps that kids used to pay with- it’s easy to put stuff in and difficult to take things out! If you already have at least a $1000 Emergency fund, then you should take a percentage of your refund and put aside for your savings account.
Pay Down Debt. This is the time to give your “snowball” effect an extra boost. Putting a portion of your refund toward your debt with the lowest APR (annual percentage rate) or lowest balance will help you pay get out of debt faster and feel good about your accomplishments. Remember, you don’t have to have thousands of dollars all at once to start getting out of debt. Every payment above the minimum helps you get closer to your goal.
Take Care of Things You Have Been Putting Off. If you have been meaning to call the plumber over to fix that leak you can’t find (raises hands) or get the brakes on your car checked out (raises hands) or even get the shoes with that weird heel repaired (raises hands) then take this time and money to do it. These are things that people put off because they don’t have the money or time. You now have the money, so make the time.
Prioritize Fun. When budgeting your money, you have to remember to prioritize for things that bring you JOY. Set a goal and when you accomplish it, tap into this category and unleash your fun fund. This could mean buying those shoes you have had your eye on, a spa day, or planning that impromptu weekend with your loved one(s), girlfriends, or even by yourself! It doesn’t have to be big, but it does help if it is something that brings happiness and drives you to work toward your goal.
How Do You Divide Your Refund?
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