15 Ways to Put Your Tax Refund to Good Use
What to do when Caesar renders unto you
Is there any day more dreaded than Tax Day? Hopefully you all filed your taxes by now. Congrats. Take a breath. The stress is over and now you can sit back and relax while you wait for the one good thing about tax season — the refund. There are plenty of things you could do with that cash. Here’s a list of ideas for putting your tax refund to good use. (Oh, and if you ended up paying a tax bill this year, remember — God loves a cheerful giver.)
- STOP! You shouldn’t consider this “free money” if you have credit card debt or any kind of loan to pay off. Use this extra dough to take a chunk out of the debt hanging over your head; put it all toward that, and say a prayer of thanksgiving for this extra help.
- Educate yourself. Spend a few bucks to expand your mind. Buy a newspaper subscription (go old school and read the printed paper every day) or a self-help book for an area of your life that needs some improvement. You could also enroll in that college course you’ve been meaning to take. Short on time? Pick up a new good book. Carving out some time to read never hurt anyone!
- Pay it forward. Spend your refund buying clothes to give to a local homeless shelter or organization that provides professional clothing for people going on job interviews. If you don’t have time to go shopping, make a donation.
- Adopt a pet. There is no love similar to the love a pet gives. Visit your local animal shelter and use your refund to adopt one of God’s littlest creatures. Pets are a big responsibility (shots, food, shelter, attention), but it is well worth it. They relieve stress and replace it with love. Pets also get you out of the house and moving, encountering new people and places.
- Tithe. Your local church needs funds for its ongoing ministry. Increase (or start) your weekly tithe (financial gift) to your parish, which in turn, will support your community.
- Save it for a rainy day. You don’t have to spend the money right away! Put your refund in an emergency fund for when you need it most. You can hold on to the money knowing one day you’ll put it to good use.
- Travel. Plan a weekend retreat at a local monastery or retreat center or take a road trip to a mission or other shrine. Have you always wanted to walk the Camino? Start planning your trip or another spiritual pilgrimage with your refund.
- Think about the children! Being charitable can be fun! Call upon your inner child and head to the toy store. Pick out fun toys that you can donate to a charity that works with families with low incomes. You can also pick up a few toys for the children you know. Whether they are family or neighborhood kids, your gifts will be sure to brighten their day.
- Freshen up your home. Everyone has home repairs they’ve been putting off. Freshen up the paint in a few rooms of your house or apartment. Take care of any home repairs or redecorating you’ve been meaning to get to. Time to put all the tips you’ve learned watching “Trading Spaces” to work!
- Grow (and/or eat) your vegetables. Use your refund to start a garden in your yard or sign up for a plot in a nearby community garden. Plant seeds now and enjoy the harvest this summer and fall. Or use your refund to sign up for a share in your local CSA. The farmer will appreciate your support and you will appreciate all of the fresh fruits and vegetables!
- Get a tune-up. Your physical health is something that’s often neglected in the shuffle of a hectic life. Use your refund to take care of any health care-related expenses you’ve been putting off (dental needs, check-ups, etc.).
- Priest’s night out. Our spiritual leaders can use a night out, too! Invite your favorite priest, nun, campus minister, or spiritual director out to dinner.
- Get in shape. Buy a new pair of cross trainers and go for more walks or runs. Join a local social sports team for fitness and fun. Sign up for a boot camp fitness class or become a member at a local gym.
- Remember your family. Give a surprise gift card to every member of your family and tell them how much you appreciate them.
- Hire an accountant. Technology has made it very easy to file your taxes on your own. But sometimes that can be kind of risky, and you can never be sure if you maximized your available refunds. To make it easier next year, hire an accountant who will file your taxes for you.