Filing taxes as an independent is relatively new for most new adults. I probably called my mom a thousand times the first time I filed as an independent. But with filing your taxes comes your tax return. It’s the only time, as an adult, I feel like a kid on Christmas outside of the holiday season. And while everyone doesn’t get the same amount back, there are some things you can do with the money you do get that can make life better. Heaven knows our generation can use all the help when it comes to financial literacy.

Without further ado, here are some things to do with your tax return.

Create an emergency fund

This is honestly the best thing you can do. We are just starting in this stupid game of adulting, so creating a safety net just in case the worst happens will help alieve some anxiety. The last thing you want is not to be able to pay your bills or rent. The rule of thumb is having about 3-6 months of living expenses set aside for the worst-case scenario. This can seem so daunting, especially for those who aren’t making a lot. Saving money sometimes isn’t an option, but setting your tax return money on the side can come in clutch later. 

Pay off debt

I genuinely believe that adulting is just about who can manage debt the best. Between student loans, credit cars, car loans, rent, mortgage payments, and every other form of debt, we all have it in some form or another. And even if you are slowly chipping away at credit card debt, it can be demoralizing. You just want it to be over. Nothing would feel better than not to owe anyone any money. Imagine how that freedom must feel. So if you can take out a chunk of that debt, then you should do it. I would love another tattoo, but I would also like to go to bed one night not worrying about my credit card bill. 

Add to your retirement fund

Why should we have to think about retirement in our early twenties? Probably because retirement is mad expensive, and most of us probably won’t be able to afford it when our time comes. So socking away as much as you can and starting early will be beneficial down the road. Wouldn’t you rather be sipping Mai Thais on the beach than working at 80? Here is more on getting started with a retirement plan.

Buy some furniture

Buying furniture is expensive. Honestly, a rug should not cost the same as a car payment. Why on earth does the cost of a couch have a comma in it? The thing is, we are now adults who have our own places. So it’s time to invest in our space and try to make it feel like home. You shouldn’t have your mattress on the floor, and you should have more than one plate and set of utensils at your place. A chair with a TV on the floor is not a living room. Buy more than one towel. None of that is cheap, but that’s the price of being an adult. There are great deals out there for furniture if you are willing to look. Facebook Marketplace and Offer Up are great places to start. Just please stop eating dinner off of a cardboard box. Here are a few tips on decorating your apartment on a budget.

Spoil yourself

In the wise words of Donna and Tom, “Treat Yo Self!” Life can be hard, and sometimes you just have to treat yourself to something nice. A new tattoo or maybe an upgrade for your gaming setup would be nice. Just find that one thing you’ve been eyeballing for the last few months and “treat yo self!” Now that I have some disposable income, I get to buy myself all the cool stuff I wanted as a kid that my mom wouldn’t buy me. Am I going to buy a custom lightsaber that I will most definitely lie about how much it cost me if my mom asks? You can bet your tax return I am. Just because we are adults doesn’t mean we still can’t be the kids at heart. I know our generation is.  

To sum it up

Getting your tax return can be so nice. Who doesn’t like getting a check in the mail or money direct deposited into your bank account from the government? But just because it’s an extra amount of money doesn’t mean we should just needlessly spend it. And if you are going to spend on something fun for yourself, make it count. Don’t blow your tax return on Postmates is what I’m trying to say. Be proactive with your money. 

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