This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MaxYourTax #CollectiveBias
Money: that beautifully wonderful and horrible thing. The thing that we love but also hate. My husband and I have for pretty much all of our marriage faced the reality of never having quite enough money. From being students, to all of a sudden having twins, to a low-paying job as a teacher at a private school, to back for more education, and me being a stay at home mom, we are not very wealthy monetarily. That’s why over the years, we have always greatly looked forward to those large lump payments, namely, the blessedly wonderful tax return. And every year we have to strategically decide what to do with the several thousands we receive.
But, beside tax returns, my husband and I would receive lump sums from student loan distributions, and we also received a car settlement after my husband’s major car accident a few years ago. No matter where excess funds come from, it’s the what you’ll do with the money that can be completely confusing and overwhelming, as there are many places our money should go, can go, and often needs to go.
Often with student loans, we’d mass pay off our rent for the semester, so as to guarantee having that needed expense covered. With our car settlement we bought and paid in full two used, but nice, vehicles, that we hope to have for a very long time, as well as finally rid ourselves of all credit card debts, and bought ourselves some needed furniture, namely a couch and table and chairs. And with our tax returns? Well, after maybe a few necessities, like new clothes or shoes, most of it has always gone to paying down credit card debts, a byproduct of when you enter your marriage with debt, to pay for said marriage.
But, this year things will be a little different for us. We don’t know how much of a tax return we can expect as I will be reporting some self employment income from the blog, although, our overall income was still low. So, just like every year, we will assess our needs and wants and overall reevaluate our expenses.
Tax Return Splurge Ideas
Let’s start with the fun ideas of what you can spend your money on, you know those big purchases you keep putting off, those items you keep drooling over, but never can afford quite yet, or not without a payment plan or credit card? Yeah, tax return season is a great time to spend on some needed wants:
- Furniture: Bed, Couch, Table and Chairs, Dresser, Bedroom Set, etc
- Appliances: Washer/Dryer, Vacuum, Microwave, Stand Mixer
- Clothes: Suits, Shoes, Fancy Dress (like a wedding dress perhaps?)
- Electronics: Computer, Tablet, TV, Gaming System, Camera, ereader, cell phone, etc
- Hobby: Biking, Fishing, Crafting, Signing up for a class, registration fees, guns, etc
- Linens: Bedding, draperies, comforters, sheets, etc
- Jewelry: Watches, Earrings, Rings, Bracelets, necklace, etc
Responsible Tax Return Spending Ideas
- Funding Investment Accounts
- Large Mortgage Payment
- Large Car Payment
- Credit Card Payments
- Student Loan Payments
- Medical Bills
- Medical or Dental or Vision Procedure (that’s needed)
- Car Repairs: New Tires, Heating/Cooling, other repairs
- Home Improvements: New counter-tops, backsplash, flooring, carpeting, renovation, windows, AC/furnace, etc (which increase value of home, and some can be energy-saving)
Revisit Your Budget
Often with the wonderfulness of tax returns, we now have the blessing of more breathing room in our budgets. Instead of not knowing where this money will be going, it’s very wise to sit down and create a budget with your family. You need to talk about even more ways you can save money on the things you are already regularly consuming, so as not to get you back into the debt you had. You could evaluate whether your home’s or apartment’s size is appropriate for your family or if you should downsize, or perhaps if it’s time to upgrade. You can assess whether or not you need certain services or monthly subscriptions, like cable, internet, phone, newspapers, magazines, etc. You can discuss whether extracurricular activities (for yourself or the kids) have been worth the time and the expense. Perhaps you even want to revamp your grocery budget, or go without eating out, as it’s been way out of control. But, you can also choose to just downgrade certain services too, or shop around, whether for better priced car insurance, or for a better priced unlimited talk, text, and data plan.
My husband and I have been using Walmart Family Mobile since the beginning of last summer as a way to (finally) have smart phones, but to not spend a fortune on the phones themselves or the service. With tax returns nearing, my husband just upgraded his phone to the Samsung Galaxy Avant (on sale for $149 from $199). Some phones there are even as inexpensive as the $19.84 ZTE Zinger, which was $39.88). Either way, it’s great that now are offering 4G LTE data, but offer an even more affordable unlimited plan with unlimited talk, text, and data up to 500MB for only $29.88/month for the first line (and you get a $5 discount for the second line!). We haven’t been using all of our data that was offered with their slightly more expensive plan of $39.88 with 2GB Data (because we have WiFi at home, and often while out), so it seems like a great way to free up some extra money in our budget by downgrading plans, but still splurge on a nicer phone.
That’s just one way we’ve made some more room in our budget. We do plan on getting rid of the remaining bit of credit card debt we have as well. I also plan on analyzing our internet bill, perhaps looking into different companies, and our insurance companies.
I think it’s really common for all of us to just get used to accepting what we are paying for certain services, that we do forget that many of them can be lowered, as long as we aren’t afraid of doing a little haggling, research, and invest a little time. No one likes to know they are overpaying for services, or paying for services they don’t even really need. It’s part of the reason we invested in an Ooma Telo for our home phone line, why we’ve called Comcast before, three times, until we got the price we wanted. It’s why it’s smart to shop for better insurance prices, whether it’s health insurance, life insurance, car insurance, renter’s insurance, or mortgage insurance.
So, tell me, what do you usually do at tax return time, and what are you doing this year (assuming you will be getting a return)?
Want More Parenting, Penny Pinching, and Simple Living Tips?
Subscribe and get my best advice delivered right to your inbox. As a thank you, you'll receive these three laundry room printables for FREE.