Like a lot of people, you may dread tax season—no one likes owing money, after all. But it often comes with a silver lining. A green lining, actually, in the form of tax refunds.
While some people choose to take only the bare minimum out of their paychecks to pay the government throughout the year, others count on that annual chunk of cash to get ahead on their loans, renovate their houses, maybe even go on a little shopping spree.
We spoke with five people across the U.S. who have big plans for their refunds.
Small business owner
Charlotte, North Carolina
Refund strategy: Work and play
“My wife and I are expecting around $9,000 this year,” Walko says. “We are looking to invest $4,500 into our business.”
The Walko’s own a 5-year-old web design and marketing company. They’re planning to boost the company’s presence with postcards and other marketing materials as well as ads on Facebook and Google.
As for the rest of it? Packing up the family, his wife and three daughters, ages 5 to 11, for a sunny vacation to Bermuda.
“We’re planning to take a cruise with our three daughters. We think the cruise would be an exciting thing for them,” he says. “All the cake and ice cream you can eat.”
“I think cruises are one of the best value vacations a family can have,” he says. “We think it will be an exciting thing for them. All the cake and ice cream you can eat.”
Digital marketing strategist
Refund strategy: Home remodel
“I’m getting about $3,500 back,” Tran says. “I’m spending my refund on remodeling my kitchen and patio.”
Tran, who works with an e-commerce and logistics company, says she and her boyfriend have been saving for this remodel for two years.
“We live in a tiny 2-bedroom condo,” she says. “We want more space and more light to come into our home.”
That means tearing down one wall to create an open kitchen area and then tearing down another one between the patio and the living room to create a bigger living space.
“I will have my meditation corner and our living room area will be more welcoming,” she says.
Personal finance blogger
Refund Strategy: Charity and saving for Disney
“My wife and I are planning to get a tax refund of about $2,000 to $3,000,” says Andre, a financial blogger. “We’re planning to use it in two ways: saving towards a family vacation and charitable giving.”
The couple hopes to take their 3 and 6-year-old daughters on their first trip to Disney World in February 2020, “so this is a good opportunity to get a head start on saving for that expense.”
The couple is also passionate about giving back. The charities they’ve picked out are humanitarian organizations that fight human trafficking.
“We normally don’t have as much money as we’d like to set aside for these types of expenses,’ Andre says. “But the extra money from the tax refund will make it possible.”
Federal law enforcement
Refund strategy: Pay off a cross-country move and pay bills
Williams, who moved from southern Louisiana to the Pacific Northwest last year, says his refund this year—hopefully between $3,000 and $5,000—will first go towards paying off some of the costs of the move, which he made with his family to take a new job.
“Under the new tax law, these expenses are no longer tax-deductible, even though I moved for my job with the federal government,” he says.
Williams says he and his wife like to use their refund for something fun like a new television or something for their kids. But not this year. After paying off their moving expenses, the rest of the refund is going to pay bills, namely the mortgage on the house they closed on right before Christmas.
Refund strategy: Pay down the car loan (and maybe pad the vacation fund).
When Steinert gets her $3,500 back from the IRS this year, she plans to first “throw a little extra into paying off the car,” adding that she still has about $10,000 left to pay on her 2018 Honda Accord.
She’ll save the rest for a vacation whenever her wife can get away from work.
“I want to go to the Greek islands, but I think [she] wants to go to some island off of Florida,” Steinert says. “I’m fine with that. It’s less expensive, and as long as we get away some place, I’ll be happy.”
Consider Stashing it
Have a tax refund coming your way? Consider stashing it in a Stash Retire account.