The vast majority of Americans settle their tax issues on time. They file before the April 15 deadline and receive a bill or refund within the next six weeks or so. But there’s always a small percentage of people who choose to file an extension. In doing so, they have an extra six months to prepare their tax filings for the previous year.
Generally speaking, those who file an extension tend to owe money. The extra time is used to find ways to minimize that tax debt as much as possible. Yet, every once in a while, those filing a late tax return end up receiving a substantial refund.
Does this describe your current situation? If so, your tax refund probably comes off as a pleasant surprise. But now it’s time to think about what to do with that money. The following are six suggestions for what to do with a late-summer tax refund:
Pay off debt
According to CNBC, the average American household owes close to $9,000 in credit card debt. Given the average tax refund hovers around $3000, it’s a good idea to use the money to pay down that debt. However, it’s important to do so for maximum effect. This means focusing on the credit card accounts with the highest interest rates. For instance, if you have two credit cards and one has an annual percentage rate of 22% while the other is 17%, use the tax refund to pay off the first credit card before moving on to the other one. Doing so will save you the most money on interest payments.
Upgrade your home
Chances are your house is your biggest investment. If so, it’s essential to stay on top of repairs and maintenance. You also want to invest in upgrades and improvements whenever possible. With this in mind, consider using your tax refund to cover the cost of overdue home improvement projects. For instance, do you live in a city with a hard water supply? If so, you might want to spend your refund money on a water softener in Bakersfield and other cities with hard water. Doing so makes the tap water taste better as well as extends the lifespan of certain appliances such as dishwashers and laundry machines.
Buy a new car
Your tax refund probably isn’t enough to buy a new car outright. But it should be enough to make a substantial down payment on a new automobile. Doing so will lower your monthly payment amount by a large margin. There’s also the option of buying a pre-owned vehicle. Depending on the refund amount, you might be able to snag a great deal on a decent used car without worrying about making payments afterward.
Put into savings
It’s not the most exciting way to use a late-summer tax refund, but if your savings are lacking, it might be time to make a substantial deposit. Since it was money you weren’t planning on getting, it should be fairly easy to put it into your savings account and forget about it going forward. The money will remain there until an emergency or opportunity comes along to spend it.
Take a vacation
While summer is nearly over, there’s still plenty of time to plan a nice vacation. A surprise tax refund provides the financial means to make it happen. With this in mind, consider booking that trip you’ve always wanted to take.
Spend on gifts
The holiday season is nearly upon us. This means soon, most of us will be spending cash and racking up credit card debt to buy gifts for our loved ones. Consider using your tax refund to cover the cost of holiday spending. That way, you don’t have to worry about addressing large amounts of holiday-related debt during the first few months of the new year.
Did you file an extension earlier this year, worried about how much you owed, only to discover you’re on the receiving end of a substantial tax refund? If so, take the time to think about the best way to use it.