Well Being

It’s Tax Return Time: How Not To Blow Your Extra Cash On Crap

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Spending Your Refund on what Matters

With tax day having come and gone, we are either anxiously awaiting our refunds or scrambling to get our butts in gear during an extension period. But before you make plans to drop an obnoxious amount of money on something totally reckless and unnecessary, think about what those extra dollars could actually do for your life—and your mental well-being.

Sure, you could buy five pairs of incredible shoes, that is true. And shoes are totally cute and all, but shoes won’t thwart your mental meltdown or help your wallet. Unless you’re some ridiculous, unrealistically ridiculous Carrie Bradshaw specimen. On the flipside, you could also be totally mature and invest it all, but let’s be serious here. Most women pay off debt or go on vacation. You should too.

Purchase a cost-effective gym membership or workout tools. Summer is coming. It’s easy to say, tomorrow I’ll start my diet. Tomorrow comes, and, well, lots of us haven’t started our diets. But if you put actual, tangible cash money toward something, it makes you more accountable. You’ll be more likely to head to the gym knowing that you’ve banked on getting a better bod. And if you know the gym isn’t for you, there are other ways to spend money on your health. Buy some (more) cute Lululemon pants, a new pair of running sneakers, a bunch of home workout gear or a few classes at a dance school. When those dumbbells are sitting there looking at you, you’ll have to pay attention.

Pay off your debts. This one sounds super obvious, and it is. I’m sorry for that. But when it comes down to it, every time I’ve had extra money—and being a writer and poet in New York doesn’t exactly equate to having extra money—I spend it. I spend it on garbage. Paying off your credit card debts, chipping at school loans and putting the rest in savings is the best bet. You’ll thank yourself later on.

Go on vacation. Book your flight, grab a deal on Groupon or Living Social and go somewhere—somewhere you’ve either always wanted to go or sometwhere entirely new and unexpected. Iceland, maybe? Maybe not. It’s hard to think of dropping money for expensive flights or hotels, but doing it while you have the extra cash means you’ll get to realize your vacation. Plus, there are plenty of ways of cutting corners. Instead of staying in the local Hilton, use Air B&B, and stay in a lovely, local apartment.

Take a class. So many of my friends say things like, I want to get into real estate or I’ve always wanted to write poetry or I want to speak French. Do it. Just do it. When I had my last decent tax return, I took some of the money and attended a low-budget Spanish-speaking book club. I bought some language books and videos, and got to learning. A few months later, when I was broke again, there was no way I’d pay money for the tools I needed to learn the language. But there I was, cursing my being broke—en Español.