‘Tis the season for tax refunds and, while there are many practical ways you can use yours, you can’t spell refund without fun! Which is why many experts suggest devoting around 10% of your refund to something purely fun and the rest to practical things like savings, paying off debt and charitable gifts.
And keep in mind that this is a tax refund, not a winning lottery payout, so you’ll likely end up picking one treat with that chunk of change. As such, you’ll want to make it really count.
From home goods to faraway vacations, here are 15 ways to treat yourself for all the hard work you put in throughout 2018.
1. Upgrade Your Kitchen
You likely spend a large portion of your time in the kitchen, cooking and prepping meals with your family. During that time, you’ve probably made note of a few items that have seen better days. Perhaps you could use a brand new set of pots and pans or a shiny new stand mixer. Now’s the time to splurge!
2. Sail Away On A Cruise
At this time of year, you can snag a sweet deal on a luxury liner vacation. Royal Caribbean offers refunds of up to $300, plus 50% off the rate for a second guest, as well as kids-sail-free promotions. New and updated ships in the fleet, like the Navigator of the Seas or the record-breaking Symphony of the Seas, make this deal even more appealing.
3. Relax In The Spa
This treat ranges from reasonable to a complete splurge. For example, Zeel, an in-home massage service, offers first-time customers a discount on their first massage throughout April. However, if you want to go all-in on relaxation, head straight to a destination spa, like the 70 acres of pure bliss at Sunrise Springs in Santa Fe, the new Miraval in Austin or Mii Amo in Sedona.
4. Plan An Adventure
Getting back to nature is a sure-fire way to banish stress. Plus, many adventurous locales give you excellent bang for your refund buck. You can chase wildflowers in California hillsides and Colorado mountains or take a deep dive in Belize before settling into plush accommodations like Vista Collina in Napa, The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch on Beaver Creek Mountain and Blancaneaux Lodge. You earned it.
5. Pamper Your Pup
Man’s best friend certainly deserves a piece of the refund pie. If you add on an invisible fence, Fido can run around as he pleases and you don’t have to worry. Or give him a treat for breakfast and dinner with the very best dog food your refund can buy.
6. Splurge On A Home Theater
It’s high time to upgrade your outdated TV and experience the ultimate in multi-sensory entertainment. You can start with a top-of-the-line 4K TV or jump right into the big leagues with a state-of-the-art home theater projector.
7. Gear Up For Outdoor Activities
Although winter starts to feel like a distant memory come tax refund season, it’s the ideal time to swap out old gear for new models. The end of the ski season brings deep discounts, so you can stock up and be prepared to ski in style when the snow starts falling again. And you’ll want to catch every stylish turn so, naturally, you’ll need the best GoPro camera, too.
Getty Images | Doug Pensinger
8. Learn A New Skill
You can learn new tricks at any age. If cooking is your passion, try a one-day cultural food course or master your knife skills at the International Culinary Center. As an alternative, consider elevating your photography skills from amateur to aspiring professional with a class and a state-of-the-art DSLR camera to capture every moment along the way.
9. Save Up For A Future Purchase
While this might look practical at first, you’re still technically treating yourself. If you don’t have a burning desire for something new in your home right now, save the refund and wait until you do. Then you can enjoy a spontaneous splurge without the debt or stress and make it count.
10. Taste The Trends
Instead of simply reading about the wacky new food and drink trends, use your refund to give them a try yourself. Taste your way through celebrity-owned wines or sample the food du jour in your backyard and beyond.
11. Book A Bucket List Trip
No matter how long your bucket list is, you have no chance of completing it if you don’t start somewhere. You may be surprised by how far your refund can take you through your bucket list. Far-flung destinations like Thailand and Indonesia require a hefty plane ticket, but on-the-ground luxury is well within reach.
Getty Images | Paula Bronstein
12. Build An Outdoor Living Space
Summer will be here before you know it, but there’s plenty of time and, now, money to create your dream outdoor space. With a new gas or bbq grill or a sturdy trampoline for the kids, you’ll be able to entertain the entire neighborhood all summer long.
13. Update Your Home Office
Technology seems to move a mile a minute, so keeping your computer and other electronic devices up to date can be a very expensive and never-ending prospect. Armed with your refund, you can update your laptop, add an Apple iPad for mobility and speed everything up with the best wireless routers all in one fell swoop.
14. Invest In Wellness
Whether you’re training for your next big race or just want to get moving, you may want to invest in the latest fitness tech in order to enhance your healthy journey. Naturally, you’ll want to track your every move with the best Fitbit or invest in a top-notch exercise bike to remove any excuses that might impede your progress.
15. Include The Whole Family
Allow everyone in the family to share a few suggestions for spending a portion of the refund. Then, gather everyone together and pool your brainstorming resources to make these ideas a reality. The possibilities are endless and might even be free if it’s something as simple as exploring your own backyard with a new perspective.