There's a tendency when it comes to bonuses and tax refunds to look at it as free money that you can spend to splurge on something frivolous. While it's your money and certainly there's no "right way" to spend your money but wouldn't it be better to be smart about it and help it go further towards helping your family?
Plan Ahead and Think About How The Money Can Help Your Family
There's often a few weeks between the time when you have an idea of how much is coming back to you and when you actually receive the check or deposit from the government. Use this time to plan ahead and instead of just obsessing over buying a new game console or concert tickets, consider how to use this money to help the whole family.
Consider What Debts Need to Be Paid Off
Nobody likes to think about paying off debts but this money could be used to buy something priceless - reducing stress and anxiety. By using at least of your tax refund to pay down credit cards or accelerate your mortgage schedule you'll be able to relax a bit more knowing that you'll be losing less in the future due to interest rates and other fees.
Pick Something Fun And Affordable To Splurge On Together
Money back is fun and while it's important to be a "responsible adult", that doesn't mean that you can't take some of the money and do something fun with it. For instance, maybe you can plan a family outing to a movie and nice restaurant or a day at an amusement park. By doing it as a family, you'll be able to avoid having any guilt about who the money was spent on. Plus, you'll be able to build some new family memories that will last far longer than the money itself!
Look For Long Term Savings Opportunities
There are two types of household expenses - one time purchases like a car or washing machine, and on-going subscriptions. This is your time to look at your expenses and figure out how to reduce long term expenses. These are typically things like cable, magazine subscriptions, and of course, your mobile phone bill.
Things have come a long way in the last couple years and there's no reason to have expensive plans like we were once forced to. For instance, with Walmart Family Mobile PLUS Plan you get unlimited text, talk, and data for only $49.88 per month (includes up to 10GB of 4G LTE† data then 2G*). Plus, it's easy to get and virtually no lines since you can get it at Walmart in the electronics section. Even better is that you get a free VUDU movie credit every month ($7 value, same as a new release rental) per line.
Simply grab the card from the Walmart Family Mobile display for the phone you want, along with the SIM Kit ($19.88) and the associate at the register will help you with the rest. We selected the Samsung Galaxy On5 because it's a great value at only $119 yet still has a nice screen that's easy to read. You can also bring your own phone and simply get the SIM Kit to get started if you are looking to save even more money!
As an extra bonus, because of the VUDU movie credit each month you can save even more. Think about it this way - instead of heading out to the theater each month for date night you can stay home - saving money on gas, food, drinks and more. Or maybe even turn it into "Family Movie Night" extending the savings further.
It's all about being smart and looking for ways to optimize your budget every chance you get!
Consider Your Savings Plans
Finally, with the money left over (you did make a plan right?), consider adding some of your money to a savings account for home improvement, retirement, or something larger that your family needs such as a new car.
If you are follow these steps, you'll find that your tax refund will go farther than if you simply follow your gut and consider it "free money". This is your family's future, so make sure you are smart about it like you are with other important decisions!
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Disclaimer: All prices for phones and plans included in this post are accurate as of the date of posting; however, these prices are subject to change. Please refer to this page or your local Walmart for current pricing.