Congratulations, you made it through tax season! And, you can breathe a sigh of relief if you're one of the lucky few expecting a tax return. This year's tax return is expected to be one of the largest. In fact, the IRS expects the average tax return to be more than $2,000. What are you going to do with all of that loot? Well you can keep investing it in your Thrift Savings Plan or other retirement savings vehicles (like we've suggested many times). Or, you can spend the money on yourself. Why not? You deserve it. So, if you're not in debt and in need of a little fun, here are five fun ways to spend your tax return:
1. Buy Your Kids a Beater (Car): If you have teenage drivers, a tax refund will get them a car that's in roadworthy shape but unlikely to set any land speed records. They get a chance to embrace the responsibility of car ownership, and you get the keys back to your own vehicle; definitely a win-win situation.
2. Feed the Animals: Check out sponsorship levels at local animal shelters, progressive zoos or wildlife organizations. Never mind the $50 squirrels and snakes (although they're worthy of saving, too): Your tax refund could net you sponsorship for whales, tigers and other monarchs of the animal world.
3. Take to the High Seas: If you need to getaway, $1,000 to $2,000 gets you a decent outside cabin on a Caribbean or European cruise for five to 10 days. Sit back, and let the captain do the driving while you enjoy the cruising.
4. Get a High-Fashion Fix: Book a limo to pick you up (with friends or family), and head to the chic and expensive part of town (the top floor of shopping malls often offers the more rarified end of the spending spectrum). Enjoy excellent service while you pick out a little black dress or nice suit, that's way out of your normal budget.
5. Leverage Your Loot: If you pay $2,000 against the principal of a $100,000, 30-year mortgage at 8 percent interest, you'll actually save $17,895 in interest over the mortgage's life. Now, THAT'S extravagant.
About Stanley J. Kershman Stanley J. Kershman is a leading authority on solving and avoiding financial disasters. He has helped people get out of debt for more than 25 years. His down-to-earth book, "Put Your Debt on a Diet: A Step-by-Step Guide to Financial Fitness" (Pepper Pike Press, 2006) is packed with powerful money management techniques and tips, and can be found at www.amazon.com, and at www.debtonadiet.com. He has been quoted in numerous media, including Reader's Digest, Dow Jones Newswire, Bloomberg News and Parents Magazine.