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7 Ways To Stretch Your Tax Return Dollars

A tax-refund check can be a very, very tempting thing. Should you buy those new shoes you’ve been eyeing? How about treating yourself to a weekend away?

Although these may be absolutely fine choices for some (it’s called retail therapy for a reason), spending your refund wisely could have a greater payoff—literally. Opting for things like money-savers and pre-paid plans could help cut down on costs year-round.

Here, smart-shopping expert Trae Bodge shares seven sound strategies for spending your latest tax return in ways that make those dollars go even further.

1. Pay Down Your Debt

A smart use for your extra cash is to make a bulk payment toward the principal of any outstanding loans you may have, says Bodge. “This can save a lot on interest down the road,” she explains. “Anything from student loans to credit card debt to a mortgage could be a great place to start.”

2. Pre-Pay Insurance

Some insurance companies, like GEICO, offer savings if you pay in-full versus paying monthly. With a newly cashed refund check, it’s as easy as paying the full premium by the policy-effective date to lock in the rate. The best part? You won’t have to worry about missing a payment or any installment charges down the line.

Review your policy.

3. Smart Outlets

Nearly one quarter of all residential energy consumption occurs through electronics in idle power mode, according to one study. Investing in smart outlets that connect to a smart device or have a simple timer function to shut off automatically will help save on electricity costs, says Bodge.

4. Buy In Bulk

Many fitness studios and salons offer savings for buying classes or services like manicures and massages in bulk, says Bodge. “Unlimited monthly passes are also worth investigating, depending on how many times you attend or typically use the service,” she adds.

5. Store Membership (So You Can Keep Buying In Bulk)

If there are certain household items that you buy frequently, like paper towels, vitamins and groceries, Bodge says a wholesale-club membership could be a good investment to help you save on everyday items. Just make sure to shop with a list, so those huge carts and huge deals on everything—including jewelry, clothing, electronics and furniture—don’t result in impulsive overspending. (Get more bulk-shopping tips here.)

6. Programmable Thermostat

Heating and cooling account for about 48 percent of the energy use in a typical U.S. home, making them the largest energy expenses for most households, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Bodge recommends installing a programmable thermostat so you can set timers for your heat and/or cooling—including adjusting the temperature at night or when no one is home during the day—to cut back on wasted energy.

7. Low-Flow Shower Heads

Low-flow shower heads market themselves as using as little as half the water of a conventional shower head, which could translate to big savings in water-heating bills over the course of a year. “While you’re at it, encourage family members to limit the length of their showers, which will help save even more,” says Bodge.

Spending your money wisely always a good idea. So is saving money on autohomeowners or renters insurance with GEICO. Click here to learn more about available insurance discounts.

Read More: 5 Financial Resolutions To Make This Year

By Nicole Cherie Jones

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    Leave a comment

    • Debbie R. says,

      Cecilia – making a little more than the minimum due will help. Stop using the credit card or loan to get a solid balance due. Look at the interest rate applied each month. Try to pay the minimum balance due plus half the interest that was charged plus an extra amount like $5 or $10. Slowly you will see the high interest go down and the account will become more manageable. Good Luck!

    • Debbie R. says,

      Regina – first a budget and list of all of your expenses is needed. Once you know exactly where you spend money, you can find ways to cut costs and pay extra on your debts. Even $5 over your minimum due helps to pay off your debt.

  1. Sheila Barron says,

    I need info on over 55 defensive driving classes to get a insurance discount also how do I know I’m getting all discounts for alarm abs, air bags etc