3 Unpopular Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund

3 Unpopular Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund


A little over 80% of Americans this year will receive a tax refund. If you’re one of those individuals, receiving a tax refund can be a little bit like Christmas, your birthday, or if you’re really lucky an unexpected bonus at work.

Once you receive your IRS payout the obvious next question is what to do with that tax refund. For many, their tax refund will be used as a means of providing themselves with a special purchase, something they haven’t been able to buy for themselves. For others, it may be the opportunity to take that long deserved vacation to some warm secluded island.

Of course, everyone’s needs and wants are different. Some will focus on more of the short-term, one-time opportunities that a tax refund provides. However, if you’re interested in taking more of a long-term approach to using your tax refund, here are three unpopular ways to spend your refund to improve your financial picture in the future.



#1. Fine-Tune Your Debt and Savings Plan

If you’ve found yourself in credit card debt after the Christmas and New Year holiday, or you have depleted your savings it might be the right time to use that tax refund to get back on track.

With the average credit card interest rate at a little over 15% carrying a credit card balance and making minimum payments will cost you a lot of money over the course of the next year. Not to mention it creates a whole bunch of stress. Use your tax refund to pay off high-interest credit cards. 

Did you drain your savings account? Not having an emergency fund is one way to continue to accumulate credit card debt. No emergency fund – stay in debt. Use your tax refund to re-establish an emergency fund so you won’t have to worry about that next unexpected expense.

Whether it’s debt pay off or saving for an emergency fund, your tax refund can be used to re-hone your finances and better position you for the future.

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#2 Make More Money

If your credit card debt and emergency fund are in order, consider using your tax refund as a means of making more money through a retirement plan or investing in a security like a mutual fund.

The average tax refund in the U.S. is a little over $3,000. Investing $3,000 in a mutual fund earning a 9% return could make you:

  • In 10 years – $7,102
  • 20 years – $16,813
  • And in 30 years – $39,803

Not a bad way to take your tax refund and make more money. In addition, if you invest in a mutual fund through a Traditional IRA you will get the benefit of a tax deduction. Check with your accountant to see how you can best leverage your tax refund for the future.

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#3 Invest in Yourself

#1 and #2 are all about money, but what if you were to use your tax refund as an investment in you. For example:

  • Extra skills training for your job or career.
  • A college course to expand a specific area of interest.
  • Start your own side business. A craft, cooking, author a book…what’s your passion?

Spending your tax refund on you in a way that expands your knowledge and broadens your opportunities is always a great investment.

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Think Long-Term

The reason these three ways to use your tax refund are unpopular is that the benefits are experienced long-term. There is no immediate gratification.

For most a tax refund is an annual event, an event that will take place next year and the year after that. This type of recurring circumstance has a tendency to lull us into a state of short-term actions – i.e. we don’t think about the future.

However, if you can think about your tax refund as a long-term opportunity, then the actions you take with your tax refund will benefit you for many years into the future. Change and shift your perspective from short-term to long-term then your actions won’t be viewed as unpopular, but rather smart.

Helpful Resources:

How do you spend your tax refund? Comment below.




Kevin is the owner of FTP and an author of the personal finance book series Filling The Pig. He uses his own past successes with debt, saving cash, investing and running his own home based businesses to teach others about Creating a Lifestyle of Opportunities.


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