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So you’re getting a tax refund and want to be wise about how to spend it. Awesome! Have you thought about using it to invest in your greatest asset—your marriage?
According to the IRS, the average tax refund last year was a whopping $2,860, which means you potentially have a chunk of change to spend. Of course, it’s best to work with a tax advisor to structure your income tax withholdings so you keep more of your money in your paycheck instead of loaning it to Uncle Sam. But if you do get money back this year, consider these three smart ways your tax refund can make your marriage stronger:
1. Say I do to an emergency fund and less debt.
Money quarrels are one of the main reasons couples call it quits on their marriage. Protect your marriage from late-night money fights by getting on the same page with your spouse about your income and outgo.
To start, take $1,000 from your tax refund and stash it in an emergency fund. Boom—that’s Dave’s Baby Step 1. That $1,000 gives you and your spouse the shared confidence that you can cover emergencies like car repairs, medical bills or a major appliance replacement. It creates breathing room in your budget and will stop a potential argument over how you’ll pay for those unexpected expenses in its tracks!
Now don’t stop there.
Once you get Baby Step 1 squared away, go ahead and pay off your smallest debt. Do you have a dental bill, credit card balance or small loan that needs to go? Slashing that small debt will give you mutual momentum to get serious about Baby Step 2—paying off all your debt except your mortgage. With one less payment, you’ll have extra money to put toward your next smallest debt later. Can you feel a debt snowball forming?
Cutting debt boosts your wealth-building potential because you’ll have fewer monthly payments and more money in the bank! Even better, getting serious about reaching your money goals promotes teamwork within a marriage. And let’s face it, anything that gives a couple the chance to work as a team is a win-win!
So let’s recap. When you first receive your refund:
- Commit to financial fidelity and stash $1,000 in an emergency fund.
- Pay off your smallest debt.
- Pledge to work as a team to become debt-free.
2. Something old, something new: Buy an experience suitable for two.
Now that you’ve been responsible with most of your tax refund, it’s time to play. Money is no fun if you can’t enjoy it, so here are a few ideas to consider:
- Take some of your refund and splurge on a fancy date night or modest weekend getaway.
- Buy season passes to the symphony or your favorite local sports team for an instant, ongoing, pre-scheduled date night.
- Load up a gift card from your favorite restaurant to pay for lunch dates with your sweetie for weeks or months to come.
No matter what you choose, use the time you’re together to reconnect—maybe even talk about your financial goals for the upcoming year. The point is to use the time to talk, bond and just relax!
3. Sign up for a marriage retreat.
Money can’t buy connection with your spouse, but it can buy tickets to a marriage retreat. What better way to build connection together than to escape from your regular routine and listen to advice and encouragement from marriage experts? A retreat is also a great way to meet other couples who have the same goal of taking their marriages to the next level.
If a retreat isn’t an option for you, then buy some books on marriage and read them as a couple. Discuss the concepts and recommit to making your marriage a priority.
Make Your Marriage Stronger Throughout the Year
Getting a big refund once a year is nice, but it’s better to have more money throughout the year. We recommend using professional tax preparation to ensure your taxes are done right. More cash in your check each month means you can cut debt faster, save more and spend more on nights out with the one you love! One quick adjustment on your tax forms can help make that happen.
Need a tax professional who can help you understand your withholding forms? Contact an Endorsed Local Provider (ELP) who can guide you through the process!