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5 Great Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund

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Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

It’s tax season, but that also means it’s tax return season, too. In 2010, the average return was $3,036. That’s a lot of money to get at one time. With all that extra cash, you might be asking yourself, “How should I spend it?”

Here are few ideas.

Travel

You’re probably in need of an exotic vacation. Trips to tropical beaches are not as expensive as you might think. For under $350 you can fly from almost anywhere in the United States to warm and sunny Costa Rica. Stay along the beach and just lounge. The cost of living in Central America is much cheaper, so your tax return will go further.

Donate

It’s great to get a big check, but it’s also important to remember that there are those in need. Donate a portion of your tax return to the ongoing relief effort in Japan. Give to a homeless shelter in your community. Contribute to your local library. It always feels good to help. You can even deduct these charitable donations from next year’s taxes.

Learn a New Talent

Use the money to take a class. Take a Spanish course at the local community college. Learn to cook elegant meals. Impress friends with new riffs you’ve learned on the guitar. Turn your tax return into something you’ll remember forever.

Save It

When we get lots of money, we often want to spend it instantly. But before you buy a Lamborghini, think about times during the year when you don’t have as much money. Put your refund into a savings account. Consider putting it into a CD, where you can even make money off interest. Or you could just, you know …

Splurge!

It’s not everyday that you’re given a fat wad of cash. Spend it on a night on the town with your loved ones. Finally try that five-star restaurant downtown! Buy the whole bottle! Sit in the VIP section! Have a “Tax Return Party.” Invite friends over for dinner and drinks to celebrate all that extra cash in everybody’s pocket!

- Contributed by Josh Heller

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