10 ways to optimise your tax refund (or any windfall)

Published on August 4, 2016 9:55 am, by

Every now and again we may receive a cheque in the mail or a credit in the bank account that we aren’t really expecting. While it’s tempting to go out and have fun spending there are some smart things you can do to boost your finances.

According to the ATO, the average tax refund at the end of the 2015 financial year was $2,112 with 82% of people expected to get a refund.

What would you do with the money?

We have put together our top 10 ways to spend (or save) your money.

Pay off any outstanding bills

Makes sense right? Who wants to be chased up for payment? If you have any outstanding bills, parking tickets etc. lying around then get them out of your life.

Pay off your credit card

If you’re a revolver, that is somebody who doesn’t pay the full balance of your credit card off on the due date, then you are making the banks money! Chances are your credit card is the debt you have with the highest rate. So pay it off, and start earning interest instead.

Pay off your personal loan

Do you have a personal loan? The freedom that comes with paying debt off and no longer having monthly payments is amazing. Feel lighter every month by repaying it totally or watch the loan term shrink accordingly when you pay a chunk off.

Remember, though it’s best to attack the debt with the highest interest rate first, so if you have credit card debt, you’ll be better off by putting any extra cash there.

Slip an extra payment into your home loan

An extra $2,000 cash injection into your mortgage at the beginning can save you an extra $3,000 in interest over a 30-year loan term. You’d be crazy not to!

Make an extra superannuation contribution

A non-concessional contribution into your superannuation can give your superannuation a boost. The cap for this is currently $180,000 per year.

Alternatively, if you have a non-working or low-income spouse you can make a contribution to their super fund and get a tax offset of up to $540 for the contribution. Be sure to check the ATO website for eligibility.

Invest in a managed fund or buy some shares

Managed funds are a great way to start exploring the investment market. Often you can set up a managed fund with an initial investment as low as $1000 or $2,000. A risk assessment will help you decide which investment allocation would suit your profile.

As an alternative, you could buy some shares. Have some fun doing some research and learning about share investments. Starting small can lead to great things.

Invest in you

Is there some study you are interested in? This could be the perfect opportunity to update or enrich your skills and give your career the boost you’ve been looking for.

Furthering your career may require you to update your image. Use the money to achieve this. You may want a new resume or a personal shopper experience to get the right wardrobe.

Otherwise, you may have a student loan that you wish to repay.

Start a holiday fund

Do you need a holiday? Have some fun dreaming, take a look at some travel brochures and figure out your destination and budget.

Park your funds in a high-interest online saver and keep saving. Before you know it you’ll be on your way.

Park the money to cover Christmas and New Year’s celebrations

Do you come out every January with a post-Christmas and New Year’s money hangover? How nice would it be to have the money already accounted for and to hand?

Park your money in an online saver or offset account, and don’t touch it until December hits. Start off 2017 in a good financial place thanks to using your tax money to cover celebrations rather than your credit card.

Start an emergency fund

Do you have an emergency fund? Money to access when something bad happens? You can’t plan everything. Sometimes a bill hits, an accident happens or you fall ill or lose your job. In all these instances a buffer will alleviate financial stress while you deal with the other stuff.

Related articles –
New financial year + new goals = new budget
Superannuation: bridging the gap
Getting out of really bad credit card debt: what to do

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Jen is an experienced banking professional who loves wine, coffee, finding a bargain and of course her three beautiful children. Since Jen's first budget led her to buy a home at 20, Jen has passionately helped others to make better decisions with their money.

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