Monday, April 19, 2010

Tax Refunds - Use It or Lose It

Many Americans get excited when they find out they are getting a tax refund. However, for many Americans in this economy getting a tax refund means it will be spent as soon as you get it. If you are struggling to pay bills or need to get out of debt your tax refund can be a lifesaver. But, it is up to you to determine how to spend it. Many Americans spend money frivolously and don't really think about their future. Here are 7 smart ways to spend your tax refund and improve your financial life.

1. Get current. If you are behind on your mortgage payment, use the money to catch up. Make sure you get current on all utility bills and car payments.

2. Downsize. If you are in a house that is upside or have a luxury car, downsize. If you are unable to downsize your home consider renting out one or two rooms. You can make a lot of extra money renting out a room in your home. Consider selling your car and buying a used car with no car payment or that costs $5,000 or less.

3. Borrow. Ask family or friends if you can borrow money to help get caught on your mortgage and utility bills. Your main focus is to keep a roof over your head and food on your table. Once you get current on household bills, then you can use any extra money to pay down debt and other bills.

4. Extras. Cancel your internet, long distance, cable service and magazine and newspaper subscriptions. If you absolutely have to have internet and cable service get the cheapest plan possible and call continually to ask about specials.
5. Eating. Skip eating out and buying fast food because you don't feel like cooking. Cooking at home can save you lots on your grocery bill. Buy more fresh fruits and vegetables instead of starches and processed food to save money. Also, use coupons, buy items on sale, buy in bulk or shop at wholesale stores. You can also change your eating habits. Meats are the most expensive items at the grocery store so consider buying cheaper meats, instead of steak buy pork, instead of pork buy turkey, seafood or chicken.

6. Sell. Go through your entire home and if you find anything in your home that has not been used by you or any of your family members in the past 6-12 months, donate the items to charity. You can later write the donations off on your taxes. You can also have a yard sale to get extra money.

7. Buy used. Many people believe the hype from advertisers that you can only get good quality items if they are bought new. Now true. You can visit websites such as and find items that are used for free. That's right free. You can also buy used items on eBay and Amazon.

I hope these tips help you slash your budget and work towards improving your financial life.

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