10 Best Things to do with your tax refund check

by Brian Clarey

Take a vacation

Unless you’re Ned Flanders, it is pretty likely that you filed your taxes in the last four weeks. That means most of you will be expecting one of those nifty, yellow, Statue of Liberty-embossed envelopes in your mailboxes at some point over the next couple months – or at least notification of a direct deposit in your account. The average refund is $2,548 this year, according to the IRS, which is just enough scratch to hop on a plane and get out of this burg for a long weekend in a place where people drink frozen cocktails on the beach.

Home improvements

With so many Greensboro homes on the market, it’s not a real good time to flip your crib. So why not sink your tax check into some upgrades? Replace carpet or flooring. Install a new kitchen or bathroom. Or, better yet, drop the whole thing into landscape architecture and gussy up the backyard with topiary, privacy hedges and a hot tub with dramatic lighting.


Now that you’ve got some extra coin, it’s as good a time as any to pick up that piece of new technology you’ve had your eye on since Christmas. The iPhone is not yet pon the market, so scratch that from your wish list until June. If you’ve got a couple grand or so lying around, we recommend the Fire Table – a low coffee table that features an open flame jetting from within. Or, if you’ve got the duckets, go for an Armed Chair by Sybaris, a recliner with a motion simulation system that hooks into your DVD player and, according to the website, “provides dramatic, realistic motion that is perfectly synchronised with onscreen action and sound.” The chair is programmed to work with more than 550 movies, so you can ride along to the Lord of the Rings trilogy or 2 Fast 2 Furious.

Give it away now

Or, if you don’t like the Chili Peppers reference, try this one from Sublime: “Take all of your money, give it all to charity.” Straight from the LBC, folks. As far as the biggest and the best US charities go, according to Forbes magazine, the Mayo Clinic is at the top with $6.12 billion in total revenue for 2005, followed by the Salvation Army ($5.3 billion), the YMCA ($5.1 billion) and the United Way ($4.175 billion). But there are many needy organizations closer to home that could use your donations. And as long as the company is a 501(c)(3) and you are eligible to itemize your deductions, the whole amount is deductible for next year’s taxes.

Pimp your ride

Face it: Your car needs painting. It also could use some spinning dubs, video screens in the headrests, a banging billet grill that’s shiny enough to see your reflection in, hydraulic suspension (for bounce, yo), a big-ass spoiler and a flame-job.


If you’ve got your hands on some extra cash, it might be smart to put it to work for you out in the financial markets. Yawn. According to the Motley Fool (, if you’ve got $1,000 or more to invest, you should open a discount brokerage account and start purchasing stocks in individual companies like Google (on fire at nearly $500 a share last week) or IBM (a solid blue chip at just under $100 per share), or maybe an index fund that mimics a particular index like the S&P 500. But we say you should put all your money in gold. Gold! Precious, shiny gold! Ha ha ha ha ha!

Pizza and beer

The most expensive pizza in the world comes with Cognac-marinated lobster, Champagne-soaked caviar, sunblush tomato sauce, smoked salmon, venison, prosciutto, vintage balsamic syrup and edible 24-carat gold flakes sprinkled on top and sold for about $4,200 on eBay. A bottle of Samuel Adams Utopia – at $100 a pop, the highest-priced beer I could find on the internet – has notes of vanilla, oak and caramel and comes in a copper-plated bottle that looks like a brew kettle. It is non-carbonated and should be served at room temperature.

Pay off your debt

The average American credit-card holding household carries about $9,200 in credit card debt – that’s not counting mortgages, student loans and outstanding bar tabs. So it makes sense for most of us, when we get our hands on a chunk of change, to siphon some of it into our negative balances. Of course, for others it makes sense to put our fingers in our ears and whistle when the subject of how much we owe comes up. It’s a matter of perspective.

Tax refunds are fallacious

Those who study their pay stubs closely will tell you that a tax refund is merely a governmental correction that comes into play when they help themselves to too much of your money. The government performs this charade every year, they might say, so that people can feel good about tax time because it means they will be getting money back. In reality, they are only getting some of their money back. It’s a huge scam.

Vegas, baby

Once you get a couple grand in your hot little hands, it’ll be tough not to hop on the next plane to Las Vegas, head straight for the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and put the whole thing on red. A casino, any casino, will be more than happy to cash your tax refund check and give you a few free cocktails to boot. And frankly, I like the idea of risking the whole bundle on a hand of blackjack or a few spins of a $100 slot machine. But then, I have terrible ideas all the time.