We often rely on tax time to get help with debt. I bet a number of people reading this blog right now are counting on a tax refund as a way to get their debt under control, pay some outstanding bills or get some savings in the bank.
In fact, in 2012 the average refund was $2,300. Think about it, this is only the average so about 50% of us actually receive less than that amount. We shouldn’t be relying on tax time to get help with debt, but it is something which can give our debt busting plans a boost.
In order to help you survive the upcoming tax season we have put together our top 4 tips to survive the madness.
Tip 1: Give yourself a break
Tax is stressful, it is time consuming and it is annoying. Give yourself a break. Don’t feel obliged to sit down and do it all in a single afternoon, feel free to break it up into smaller more manageable pieces. When you break this process down it won’t seem as intimidating and you would actually have more time to focus on what you are doing, instead of rushing to get the job done.
As part of this step you may also want to look into making your money work harder for you, there are a number of superannuation concessions available to low income earners, which may help out at tax time.
Tip 2: Claim everything you can
Really this one should go without saying, make sure you are claiming everything you possibly can. This will help ensure you get back the largest refund, and aren’t giving away money you are entitled to. We’ve previously provided our 9 tax time tips, these tips are about making sure you claim everything you can.
Tip 3: When in doubt ask for help
Our tax system is incredibly confusing. People make it their entire profession! Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are having trouble doing your taxes yourself. Whilst this may be an upfront expense, you can claim the costs of an accountant off of next year’s taxes, and you can be sure you are claiming everything you are entitled to. If you have a really simple tax situation you can generally pay $100 or less for this service.
Tip 4: Don’t blow it in one place
Just because you get a sudden windfall in cash doesn’t mean you should spend it all in one place. By all means, treat yourself to something, but if you are carrying consumer debt like credit cards, personal loans etc. you should really consider using your tax refund to pay it off, or make a lump sum payment.
Let’s assume you get a $2,500 refund, and you have a $8,000 on a personal loan, with a 14.5% interest rate over 5 years.
You spend $500, but you put $2,000 on your loan in a lump sum payment.
You save $1,475.98 in interest and cut your loan period by 4 months. That $2,000 has actually grown into $3,475.98, it’s close to double what you started with!
It is also important if you do decide to make lump sum payments on your debt, you are strategic about how you do this. You should think about whether you should snowball or snow flake your debt.
Tax time is stressful, but you can use this time of year to get help with debt, and create a new financial journey for yourself.
Brand & Communications Manager
Elise is passionate about finance, and is on a mission to explore and share different tactics for tackling the everyday financial challenges in realistic and achievable ways. With a background in communications, digital marketing, and public relations, Elise uses her skills to generate new ideas and content to help make finance fun.