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10 Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund for Fun

Most people will be receiving a tax refund this year, and many people I know have received theirs already. There are two reasons people would receive a tax refund: either they’re not minimizing their withholding throughout the year and missing out on interest or investment returns they could earn, or they deliberately overpay for the benefit of receiving a large check once a year. Regardless of the reason, it’s fun to decide what to do with the nice check you receive from the government.

CNN Money has five “slam-dunk” uses for a tax refund [1], and they suggest the typical advice. Fund an IRA, fund a 529, open a CD, add to your emergency fund, and/or reduce your credit card debt. In celebration of my Chinese food fortune last night, “You will have a fine capacity for the enjoyment of life,” here are ten things you can do with a $1,000 to $2,000 refund to enhance your life now, not in 30 years after average market returns.

1. Take a road trip. If you have AAA [2] membership, you can get maps and travel planning for free, and the books they can provide are much better than planning the trip using Google Maps [3]. Ask for the scenic route, and have no specific destination.

Scrooge McDuck2. Pimp your ride. Now that I work closer to where I live, I’m only in my car 90 minutes to two hours each day. Some of my coworkers have a commute of over two hours each way. If they work five days a week for the entire year, that’s 1,040 hours (or more than 43 full days) in the car. If I were be in any certain place for 43 days a year, I’d want that place to be as comfortable as possible. Start with a car microwave [4] but don’t forget about the sound system.

3. Get on television. Perhaps you can convince the producers of House [5] to cast you as a patient with an evasive affliction by offering some cash. If House isn’t your thing, there are other shows that require new actors every episode. For example, NBC is always looking for people to portray rape victims.

4. Emulate your hero. Order gold coins, bill wrappers, and money bags and re-enact your favorite scenes with Scrooge McDuck.

5. Invest in your favorite hobby. Speaking of coins, if you love coin collecting, visit a dealer or reputable eBay [6] seller and pick up the 1909-S VDB 1C or 1880-CC Morgan $1 missing from your collection. Add something to your collection that will make you proud. If music is your hobby, buy a new instrument [7] that you will enjoy. If photography is your thing, get some new lenses.

6. Attend a big sporting event. Get good tickets to the Super Bowl, World Series, or World Men’s Curling Championship [8]. It’s more than just the game, it’s the atmosphere. Sports aren’t for everyone, so for the others, there are the Drum Corps International [9] World Championships, this year in Pasadena.

7. Get a makeover. You are $1,000 to $2,000 richer now. If your outward appearance reflects who you are, you should make yourself look like you spent $1,000 to $2,000 on your looks.

8. Upgrade your gadgets. It’s time to upgrade your television. Everyone else has a wide aspect LCD or plasma screen, isn’t it time you have one, too? If you really enjoy television and movies, there’s nothing wrong with making that experience more enjoyable. It’s your money.

9. Treat your friends. Take them to dinner, see a Broadway show, and/or go to a strip club — whatever your friends happen to enjoy. They’ll like you more if you wave around a few Gs, and it’s all about you.

10. One word: Las Vegas.

If you have any other suggestions for ways to blow $2,000 or so, spending the money today to enhance your enjoyment of life rather than investing for the future, please leave them in the comments here.

7 Comments (Open | Close)

7 Comments To "10 Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund for Fun"

#1 Comment By Anonymous On March 30, 2007 @ 11:46 am

Make that engagement ring a little bigger than you otherwise would have …

#2 Comment By Anonymous On March 30, 2007 @ 3:51 pm

#10 left me LOL. (I THINK the space in there idicates that “Las Vegas” is two words)

One Word: Get it all in cash. Go out shopping for a day and buy 5-10 high priced items that you like. Bring them home but don’t open them. After two days, return all but your favorite one to the stores and put your refunds in savings.

#3 Comment By Anonymous On March 31, 2007 @ 12:51 am

My favorite coins aren’t the 1909-S VDB or even the 1913 Liberty nickel (which was minted surreptitiously after hours by a Mint employee – probably the Mint Director – and is surrounded by tons of hype but in my opinion technically isn’t really a valid coin).

I really like the “classic” circulating early 20th century coin designs – the Indian Head cent, the Buffalo nickel, the Mercury dime, the Standing Liberty quarter, and the Walking Liberty half dollar.

Proof coins were minted from 1936 through 1942 (suspended during wartime and not resumed until 1950) and the nickel, dime, and half dollar are all scarce and can be found in superb condition. In higher grades (I like the “64” grade as this is where I often find above-average eye appeal combined with reasonable price) these can be truly stunning coins. If I had the money I’d want to buy these, and I see little downside risk as the supply is not going to increase and I don’t see them falling out of collector favor any time in the foreseeable future.

Mintages generally rose modestly each year; the highest mintages (and lowest prices) can be found in the 1941 and 1942 issues.

The 1941 and 1942 dimes are the lowest-pticed of the whole bunch. (I kick myself today for not having bought a really nice Proof-64 Mercury dime for $100 at a coin show five years ago.) Proof Buffalo nickels were minted only in 1936 and 1937; these are scarce and pricey.

I also like nice Morgan dollars (but never never never buy a 1921 Morgan – the old dies had been discarded and the 1921 was re-engraved and is ugly and collectors hate it and it sells for lower prices than all other Morgans) and Standing Liberty quarters (1916-1930). These quarters
are all scarce but are downright rare in higher grades.

When I was a kid I was a “date” collector who had all the current coin albums and tried (good luck with that!) to fill all the holes – one coin for every date and mint mark.

Now I think “type” collecting is the way to go. Who needs 150 different Lincoln cents? Now I’d rather have ONE nice Indian Head cent, ONE nice Buffalo nickel, etc.

#4 Comment By Anonymous On March 31, 2007 @ 9:34 am

#11 buy a really really over priced bottle of Bordeaux – and drink it

#12 buy a new lens for my camera

#13 speculate in some way out investment (penny shares, options, whatever). If it comes off you may have multiples of what you started with. If not…well it was all spending money. The gambler’s rush/entertainment value will last much longer than going to a casino and the odds are no worse

#14 ….

Actually, I’m beginning to think this is a dangerous train of thought

#5 Comment By Anonymous On April 2, 2007 @ 7:42 am

I have always said that if I win the lottery I’ll be emulating scrooge mcduck. How many coins do you think would be needed to fill a swimming pool?

#6 Comment By Anonymous On April 2, 2007 @ 11:02 pm

My car ate my $2,000. I’m serious. Two words: major maintenance.

#7 Comment By Anonymous On May 13, 2008 @ 5:01 pm

I think it’s kind of silly to ask us to spend our refund on products when everything is made in China. If we think about retail economics, maybe 40% of the money we spend goes to the store or company, and of the rest, half goes to the manufacturer, and half goes into the cost of making to product which includes profit for the factory in China that made it.

In other words, the only amount that reaches our economy goes to corporations and their investors, and that can take a quarter year or more.

It doesn’t put money into the pockets of anybody that would in turn spend it and therefore actually stimulate the economy.

If you want to really spend our money right, treat yourself to a good dinner at a locally owned independent restaurant. The proprietor will spend it in the community, buy more food, which more likely than not comes from and American farmer or food manufacturer. The tip will be added into the wages of a server, who will spend it locally as well.

Just a thought from johnny.