On January 23, the IRS began accepting 2016 tax returns, and that means refund season is officially here. For 2017, the IRS expects 70% of Americans will get refunds, and those refunds will average around $2,840. Yes, if you're among that 70%, it means you paid in too much over the course of the year and gave the IRS an interest-free loan. (And no, they won't return the favor.) But millions of Americans still very consciously use their tax withholding as a savings account, and look forward all winter to receiving that sweet check.
That leaves just one nice problem to have — deciding where to spend it all. Feel like blowing it on a vacation? Your friendly travel agent will tell you that airfares to Europe are low and exchange rates are great. Want to update your home? The Wall Street Journal reports that this is an excellent time to buy a big-screen TV. Got kids in college? The bursar will be happy to cash your check, and you won't even have to feel guilty about it. Feeling responsible? It never hurts to drop more into retirement savings.
Or you could turn to the Daily Horoscope and look to your sun sign for help spending it! Here are some of the site's suggestions for that windfall:
- Aries: "You have no impulse control," so don't even think about saving it. Harsh. But given that you can always adjust your withholding throughout the year, and spend those extra dollars the minute you earn them, it's hard to imagine too many Aries collecting refunds in the first place.
- Gemini: "Sort through that big pile of mail, and once you've found it, take it straight to the bank." (Or use direct deposit to defeat temptation!) Of course, with banks averaging a miserly 1% or so on savings accounts, you might as well take it to your favorite casino and put it all on Red.
- Leo: "Your tax refund may not be big enough for what you think you deserve." But $2,840 still isn't anything to sneeze at — so find your nearest Tiffany store and pick out something that makes you look as good as you feel about yourself, or give someone else a gift they'll never forget.
- Virgo: "The first thing you'll do is open your spreadsheet or financial management program and enter your refund." Of course, just having a spreadsheet to track your spending choices doesn't guarantee they'll be smart choices, does it?
- Scorpio: "Since your sign rules reusing and recycling, consider going green with your greenbacks: put your money into funds that support socially and ecologically responsible companies." Now there's a choice you can be proud of.
- Aquarius: "Whatever someone suggests you do with your refund, you won't do it anyway." Ouch. Still, that doesn't mean you can't make smart choices on your own. A little research, a little investigation, and pretty soon you'll be ready to plunge into something that surprises everyone!
Whatever your sign, our primary goal has always been to help you pay less. But we're happy to help you with the next step, too — and you'll probably be happier with our suggestions than something you see advertised on the evening news or ESPN. The biggest refunds don't come from the stars, they come from planning — and we're here to help you make everything align!