This is an updated version of a post I wrote last year. As I hear about how people are using (or in some cases, wasting) their sometimes large income tax refunds, I felt compelled to share my story again about how I used tax time every year to make a huge difference in my life for my future. Not just my present.
Hope you got a refund.
I won’t. Not this year.
This tax season, I was single with no dependents to claim so I joined many of my single friends who don’t have kids and have been used to not getting a refund at all. Even paying in at times.
This was new for me. I had to pay! Even with my business and home ownership deductions, I had to pay. Ugh.
But I didn’t feel that bad about it because I had benefited from my tax situation in the past, and I’m thankful that I was smart enough to use it wisely. I’m no tax expert AT ALL, but I want to share what I did with my income tax return as a relatively low income, single mother that changed my life.
1. In high school and in college, I worked (plus I was a mother) so I got a return. I even got earned income credit. I used that money to pay up my rent so that I wouldn’t struggle and stress each month trying to pay it.
2. At my first job after college, I still met the requirements to get earned income credit. I used the money to pay off my car note, my used but nice Lexus RX 300. Debt free vehicle #1, and I did it in six months.
3. In the following two years, I used my tax return to save for my first house.
4. Once in my house, my tax refund was used to get ahead on my mortgage.
5. Over two tax seasons, I used my refund to pay off my student loan debt from graduate school. Yes, that can be done!
6. No longer getting earned income credit after I earned more money on my next jobs, I still got a refund and used it to pay off the new-to-me truck, my Lexus RX 330, that I bought once the old one needed to be replaced. I sold the first truck and that money, combined with the tax refund and savings which included some money from previous refunds, was used to pay off the new truck. Debt free vehicle #2, and I did in three months.
Refunds after that were put into savings which helped to make it possible for me to leave Corporate America and start my own business.
I used nearly every dime of my refunds for what I said above, and occasionally I bought a very few non-necessities for myself and my son. I always viewed that lump sum of money from my income tax refund as an opportunity to get ahead, not fulfill a short-term want.
So this year when I won’t get a refund like last year, I will be completely okay because my past decisions had already gotten me ahead!