It might be here already. Since Tax Day has already come and gone, we hope it’s at least on the way. But when you finally get that sweet, sweet refund, what the hell is the best thing to do with it?
If you have overdue debts to pay, or you’ve been putting off visiting the podiatrist or something, you’ll want to take care of those necessities first. But, if you have a bit or a lot left over, here are a few ideas.
1. Make a donation.
Perhaps you meant to budget for charity at the beginning on the year, but it didn’t quite pan out. That’s okay; no one is mad at you (we assume). You can still use your tax refund to catch up a little.
With this donation, try going local: for example, if you want to donate to Planned Parenthood, consider giving directly to your local Planned Parenthood health center.
And if your donation is tax-deductible, be sure to keep record for next year’s taxes. Bet you can’t wait for those.
2. Learn something cool, like how to make pasta.
Investments aren’t limited to bonds and stocks. If you learn a cool new skill, you’re making yourself a better human, which is what you want anyway, right? Finally take that cycling class you’ve been relentlessly Googling, or pull a Master of None and learn to make pasta or really good bread.
3. Refresh something you use every day
If your mattress is constantly giving you backaches or your couch is making weird cracking noises, consider this your opportunity to upgrade or at least start saving to do so.
If you know your chosen item is a smart purchase that will vastly improve your quality of life, but still fear its price tag, calculate cost per use. If it’s a new mattress, for example, figure out cost per night’s sleep you might find that the juice is worth the squeeze after all. For the couch, calculate the cost per episodes of Chewing Gum watched, or cost per accidental naps taken. Whatever works for you.
4. Don’t adopt a dog; buy a plant instead.
When the sun is shining and you’re feeling rich, it might seem like a good idea to adopt a dog. And maybe that is good. But, if you were unsure you could afford to take care of a dog before you got your tax refund, you certainly cannot afford one now.
Instead, consider adopting some plants. Find one that works well for your home (or office), research proper care, and pray you don’t have a black thumb.
But, if you do … at least it’s just a plant, and you can go back to doodling pictures of good dogs in your journal.
5. Pay for your news.
You know how everyone’s talking about the need to support journalism in the Trump era? That is a real thing. If you’ve been waging a pop-up blocker war with your favorite online publication for a while now, it might be time to bite the bullet and subscribe.
6. Go see some stuff you have not seen before.
Okay, travel is a clich option, but clichs rose to prominence for a reason (looking at you, “My Heart Will Go On”). If you want to break away from the crowd a little, consider an under-the-radar destination.
You don’t need to go very far away to take a vacation, either … and now also seems like a good time to support your local national park, yes?
7. Ugh, just save your damn money.
We had to say it no matter how many bath bombs and iPhones you want to buy (for me, it is one thousand), saving is always a great option. Everyone needs an emergency fund, after all, and it’s always good to have a small pool saved for unexpected medical expenses.
If you’re a renter, you could even save your refund for the next time you move it’ll give you a nice financial cushion for movers, boxes, and replacements for all the wine glasses you will inevitably break.
Or … you could spend it all on candy.