It’s that time when the financial “gurus” begin to tell you what to do with your tax refund.
According to the IRS, the average refund this year is $3,034 – up 3% over the same period last year.
So, you read/hear the same advice every year. Granted, it’s valid. But it’s old.
Pay down credit card debt, fund a Roth IRA, begin or bolster an emergency reserve.
I guarantee what you’re hearing will pay off if you listen and follow through.
Better than how I know some people are going to blow a tax refund.
“Going to a strip club.” Good one.
“Paying for a divorce.” OK!
“Spending it on my boyfriend.” Really?
“Going to IKEA.” Hell no.
So let’s try new ideas.
Here are five unorthodox ways to direct your tax refund dollars to increase your ROL.
Return On Life.
1). Treat the grandparents and parents to dinners. The knowledge you’ll gain from asking questions to those with money experiences (good and bad) will be invaluable. Listen. Learn. Write down the responses. Write down everything. Gaining perspective from those who have been handling investments, credit, debt, financial failures is worth more than any Roth contribution.
2). Purchase experiences, not stuff. From the authors of the book “Happy Money: The Science Of Smarter Spending” your money goes a long way to provide happiness when it’s directed toward experiences that create memories, not stuff like new smart phones. Eventually your satisfaction with goods diminishes; memories last a lifetime.
3). Take on education. Learn a skill that will increase your “ROHC,” or return on human capital: The return on YOU as a future earnings machine. Many people are underemployed and reluctant to “switch gears” to learn new skills or spend the time on what’s required to succeed in our post-financial crisis economy. Perhaps a vocational school is worth your time. There’s a dearth of skilled laborers today. Check out http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/ for accredited schools in your area.
4). Do something for your soul. Money you share with others can foster inner satisfaction. Purchasing items for a local animal shelter, contributing to a favorite charity, helping someone in need all can add to your happiness bucks.
5). Do something for your heart. With the healthcare industry going through tremendous change, one fact is clear: Getting and staying healthy is going to be a priority. First, your insurance carrier will demand better “numbers” from you to provide premium discounts. For example, cholesterol, blood sugar and weight should meet or exceed normal ranges for your age. Second, joining a gym and spending on healthy meal choices can mean fewer visits to the doctor (your doctor no longer has time for you, anyway).
Consider ROL for your refund; you can return to the advice you already know and will hear again next year, anytime.
It’s always out there.
The old guidance is good guidance.
Try something different.