This post originally appeared on POPSUGAR Smart Living.
Tax day is comin' right up! It's on April 15, and if you have already filed your taxes, it means the refund is coming soon. There are plenty of smart ways to spend your tax windfall, but you can choose to spend it more meaningfully this year with these suggestions. Take note that you should consider these options only if your budget allows for it.
Give back and show your care toward others with the green you're getting back from Uncle Sam. Your tax refund can make a difference!
Donate Your Dime
Consider donating part or all of your check to a charity of your choice, whether it be for a cause that's close to your heart or an issue you feel strongly about. This is a savvy move, because you can deduct your charitable expenses when you're doing your taxes.
Make sure that your charity meets the specifications provided by the IRS, because not all of them will qualify as a deduction.
Spend to Save the Environment
Take the money and spend it in eco-friendly ways that will help the earth. Here are some options:
- Insulate your house: Figure out if your home can improve on insulation with either a paid inspection by a professional energy auditor or one of your own. The US Department of Energy website has good tips on DIY home inspections. Save energy and money by installing what works best for your house, from installing windows and doors that fit better to plugging and caulking cracks and holes. Be sure to do your research online first, before attempting to make these changes on your own.
- Green up your car: Your vehicle is usually the second-biggest investment in your life after a house, so spend some of the cash to maintain it, give it a tune-up, and clean air filters. If your car is at its optimum performance, then it will be less polluting and more fuel-efficient.
- Solar energy: Replace some of your products with items that can be powered by solar energy, such as radios, rechargeable batteries, flashlights, and even laptop chargers.
Some of these expenditures will give you great benefits come tax day.
Invest in Your Health
To help others, you need to take care of yourself first. If a membership to a gym or yoga studio will encourage you to exercise, maybe you should consider investing in one.
Remember, your mental health needs to be taken care of, too. You can spend your tax refund on a massage to relax or perhaps even a therapy session if it's really necessary.
You should also schedule and invest in health checkups if you haven't been able to afford it. If you have good coverage, your insurance should be able to foot a large part of the bill, but be sure to check with them beforehand. No health insurance? Use your tax refund and try to save up for health insurance.
Shop With a Conscience
Some people splurge their tax refunds on shopping in order to treat themselves, and if you're looking to do the same, why not spend your cash on retailers that are doing social good? Do some research online to see what kind of social enterprises are out there. Here is a list of some to consider:
- TOMS Shoes: For every extremely cute pair of TOMS shoes that's been purchased, the company will give a pair to a child in a developing country who can't afford it.
- Warby Parker: Looking for a stylish pair of glasses? Buy a pair of Warby Parker glasses, and the firm will give a pair to someone in need.
- Figs: Buy a tie as a gift for someone or for yourself from Figs, and your purchase will ensure that an underprivileged child will receive a uniform that will enable them to attend school.
Save For Your Kid's Tuition
Students are drowning in college tuition debt, and many have to make sacrifices with their education in order to cope. Americans now owe more in student loans than credit card debt.
Start saving for your child's future college path so that he or she will have an easier time dealing with the rising costs of college. Of course, you need to also make sure that you are on track with your retirement savings, so make sure you evaluate your situation before saving for your kid's tuition.
Take a Volunteer Trip
Volunteer vacations can be pricey, so if you have a little extra to spend, you can opt to go on one. Join a Habitat For Humanity project and build a house in a country or city you'd love to visit or help out, such as New Orleans or perhaps a third world country.
Check out Globe Aware to see which short-term volunteer programs are available that will also suit your interests and price range. Although this trip may be short, it will give you a new perspective and a lot of awareness and meaning to your life.
Reduce Paper With a Spankin' New Ereader
There are many that prefer the physical pleasure of flipping through a book, but an ereader will help cut down on paper usage, particularly if you're a student or just a voracious bookworm. Trade in books required for class, novels, newspapers, and magazines for their digital peers.
Yes, it takes energy to charge the device, but you can skip the iPad and pick the Kindle, which uses less energy and has a longer battery life.