Expecting a Tax Return? How to Decide Whether to Save or Splurge

tax refundTax season is upon us, and although that means we have to go through the tedious motions of getting all the necessary paperwork in order and either sitting down with our ol' pal TurboTax or making an appointment with our accountant, there could very well be a bright shiny light at the end of the tunnel ... In the form of a tax return! Who doesn't love a happy "surprise!" check in the mail (or gets direct deposited) that almost feels like a reward (but is actually your own hard-earned cash the government has decided to give back to you)?

We all have different ways of handling our tax return. For some, it goes straight into a savings account. Others use it to pay down a credit card. And well, whether we'd like to admit it or not, plenty of us consider putting our "bonus from Uncle Sam" toward a total splurge.


You know, something you don't necessarily need -- just want, covet, crave. A vacation, an upgraded car, a hot pair of designer boots ... It could even be something you want for you but wouldn't necessarily buy using your everyday dough (like a massage or a package of personal training sessions), because that wouldn't feel responsible somehow. But with a tax return, it's fair game.

Still, when it boils down to it -- I'm guessing what Suze Orman says about tax returns is that you shouldn't splurge until you've got your debt and savings bases covered. As in, the smartest move would be to use it to pay down any existing debt. If you don't have any debt, the second smartest move is to use it to build your savings up to a healthy amount. And if and only if you're free of debt and your savings is in good shape, then, sure, take that tax refund and live it up!

Then again, no matter what the experts say, everyone's financial situation is unique. Everyone has their own reasons for spending or saving their tax refund in whichever way they choose. And if you happen to make an impulsive, irresponsible move, hey, there's always next April!

What do you plan on doing with your tax return this year?


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