Less than a month until the filing deadline. Some of you show-offs have already filed your returns, and others (like me) are saying you'll get around to it "tomorrow." Not everyone will receive a refund, of course, but those who do should have a plan for how to use it.
Not everyone associates taxes with wisdom and generosity, but it's possible. We recommend using that money to make meaningful investments in yourself, your family, your loved ones, and your community.
Here are a few things to consider using your refund for:
01/Debt, Investments, and Emergency Savings
It's a matter of interest. Literally. If you owe debt, how much interest are you being charged? If it is less interest than you could earn by investing the money, then invest. But if you are carrying high interest debt (from credit cards, for example) then pay it off or reduce it. What about your emergency savings? If someone in your family is out of work, can you make it 3-6 months without panic?
Your first priority with that money ought to be putting yourself and your family in a more financially secure position.
Have you been wanting to travel? Have you and your spouse been putting off a special trip? Have you always wanted to load up the van and take the kids to a National Park? Family camp? Volunteer trip?
Create memories before you just buy more "stuff."
There's great need all around us. You don't have to look hard or far. If you don't have an urgent need in your own life, consider holding a family meeting to identify a cause or a charity or a neighbor in need, and give away a percentage of your refund.
You never know. You just might change someone's life.
Is it comfortable talking with a lawyer about death, disability, money, and family? No. Is it cheap? No. Is it critical that you do it? Yes.
You know it's important. You've probably seen what happens when someone hasn't made any plans. You've seen the stress it puts on families, the time and expense involved in guardianships and probates, the tensions that often arise between family members, and on and on and on. And all of that is avoidable.
Your estate plan is an investment in your family's peace of mind for the long term. So just do it.