Tax season is upon us, and how much money you owe or get back is entirely your business. But, if you do post your tax refund online, be prepared for the possibility that it might go viral.
A single mother from South Carolina wrote an inspiring message about what she planned to do with the $5,600 she got back from the government and posted it to her Facebook page.
“I got back $5600 on my taxes. Instead of buying my kids the latest Jordans or fancy electronics I paid my rent for the YEAR. I’m a single mom and I do it all buy [sic] myself on a minimum wage job,” Christina Knaack posted to Facebook. “My kids don’t want for anything because my priorities are straight. And this also means I will have that extra 450 a month to do things with my kids.”
The caption was accompanied by a receipt for the rent she paid through the rest of 2017. (It looks like she put all but $200 from her tax refund towards rent.)
As of this writing, the post has received 380,000 likes and more than 51,000 comments.
According to Fox Carolina, the post started gaining traction almost immediately. Knaack told the station that she never expected her post would draw that kind of attention.
“It’s pretty crazy,” she said. “I was just sharing a milestone with my friends and family.”
Not all of the attention the post has been positive, however. After showing off the receipt online, Knaack updated her Facebook page with several posts about the comments she’s been receiving.
“So I just woke up to some of the most hateful comments and some very inspiring comments and people I don’t even kno [sic] defending me,” she wrote. She went on to say, “As long as my post has inspired people I’m happy with that.”
With comments such as, “You keep up the good work mama- you’re doing well!!!” and many more that make note of how Knaack made a responsible decision when choosing how to spend her money, I’d say she’s certainly been an inspiration to many.
What Should You Do With Your Refund?
Knaack made a smart move by making extra rent payments with her income tax refund. But what should you do with yours? The answer depends on your situation, but making an extra rent or mortgage payment is certainly a good option. Did you know that making one extra mortgage payment a year can trim a 30-year loan by five to 10 years?
Pay Off Your Debt
If you get a windfall from Uncle Same, start paying down any debt you might owe. Credit card bills, student loans and car loans all typically have high interest rates. By paying down the balance on your debts, you will pay less in interest over the long run. This can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on how much you pay off now.
Save For Retirement
Saving for retirement means you’re actually investing in yourself. Sure, it’s years down the road, but why not pay yourself first? Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) are often tax-deferred. This means you can invest and not pay taxes on it until you cash it out years later. And, if you have a Roth IRA, distributions are tax-free if they qualify under the tax code. You can invest up to $5,500 or $6,500 depending on your age, according to the IRS. Pay yourself now so you can play more later.
Create (Or Add To) Your Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is money set aside to cover unexpected life events. Things such as illness, job loss, natural disasters, home repairs and unexpected travel are times when having some extra money can come in handy.
Unfortunately, many people do not save enough for an emergency fund. A Bankrate survey showed that only four out of 10 Americans could afford a major unexpected expense.
Using your tax refund to create or boost an emergency fund can give you peace of mind that you’ll have some extra cash in case the unexpected happens—and it usually does.
Lower Your Refund
It probably sounds crazy, but experts recommend people adjust their withholdings to get a lower refund. That’s right: If you get a big tax refund each year, it means you are significantly overpaying on your taxes with each paycheck. You’re essentially giving the federal government a tax-free loan for 12 months until you file your annual tax return and get that money back as a refund.
By adjusting your withholding status on your W-4 form, your paychecks will be a bit higher, which you can save or spend your money however you wish. It may not seem like much each check, but the money adds up quickly—and it’s better off in your pocket than at the U.S. Treasury.