Along with mild breezes and green buds, for many, April brings tax refunds. You might think of a refund as money with which to splurge, say, on a new electronic gadget or an exotic trip. But there are far better choices! These are six of the most rewarding ways to put your 2016 refund to use.
1. Pay Down Debt
If you’re carrying high-interest debt on credit cards, or on a car or a student loan, you’re throwing away potentially hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars on the interest on those loans. Repaying those loans will let you keep more of your hard-earned paycheck. Tip: If you’ve got multiple loans, begin by paying down the one that carries the highest interest rate.
2. Contribute to an Emergency Fund
Though we hope never to be laid off or faced with a sudden onslaught of medical bills, stuff happens. That’s why everyone needs an emergency fund: six to eight months of after-tax income in an accessible savings or money market account. Although most of those accounts pay very little interest right now, having these savings will give you peace of mind, knowing you’re covered should unexpected expenses arise.
3. Pay for Health-related Costs
Have you been putting off elective surgery or much needed dental work due to lack of funds? Perhaps you’ve wanted to join a gym, but the fees were beyond your reach. These are wonderful uses of your tax refund, and all of them will help you improve your health and wellbeing.
4. Donate to Charity
Give generously to a cause you and your family care about. Not only will you be helping those in need—in your neighborhood, in the United States or abroad—but contributions to most nonprofits are tax-deductible.
5. Invest in Your Career
Here’s another great use of your refund—to help finance your professional education. Skill-enhancing courses can lead to a promotion, a raise, or a better job. Why not look into ASAP’s Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence (PACE)—the most up-to-date, relevant certification available to admin pros! Learn how PACE can help advance your career.
6. Treat Yourself
But only after you’ve take care of one or more of the above. Take yourself out to a nice dinner, a show, or a sporting event. Or, go on an affordable vacation—it will help you clear your mind and return to work refreshed and renewed.