How We Used Our 2011 Tax Refund

We filed our taxes earlier this month, and even though getting a refund means we temporarily lent money to the government, it's always a fun little bonus. This year we were pleasantly surprised to receive a couple thousand dollars!

Of course, we were then faced with the decision of how to use the money. We both had ideas, some that were clearly wiser than others, which all came out in a brainstorming session.



  • Put the money aside for vacations, weddings, and birthday and Christmas gifts for the year. We typically save for these expected expenditures throughout the year (a little from each paycheck), so this plan would free up some monthly income to be used elsewhere.
  • Buy another laptop (MacBook Air) and Photoshop. We have an iMac, Macbook, two iPads (which technically belong to our company) and iPhones, but the laptop is our only machine with Photoshop and has the most flexibility for blogging on the go. We fight over it when we have photo editing to do or if we want to sit in front of the TV rather than in the office. It's also four years old, so we're not sure how much longer it will last.
  • Invest in our home (storm door, landscaping, finishing part of our basement, etc.). There are lots of home projects we've dreamed about and want to do now that our house is no longer for sale.
  • Car replacement. We really want to trade in our Jeep for a minivan :)
  • Purchase bikes. This is probably the least-smart idea, but it's something we've wanted for a while now.

How We Used Our 2011 Tax Refund

Honestly, as soon as we pressed submit on our e-file, we looked at each other and said "MacBook!" That would cost about $1,600, with Photoshop taking the rest of the money. But then my security gland kicked in and I just couldn't pull the trigger on it. I mean, every few minutes I am reminded with a kick in the ribs (literally) that I have a little baby inside of me, and there are a lot of financial unknowns that come with that, as much as we've tried to prepare.

So we're going with option one: put the money aside for vacations, weddings, and birthday and Christmas gifts for the year. This means we're not actually spending the money now, but rather moving it to our savings account and keeping our options open.

By doing so, we still had $600 left over, which will go toward home improvement projects this year, starting with a few fun ones this spring. (I can't wait to show you!)

And it should also allow us to have more peace month to month as we get a handle on the cost of diapers, day care, etc., because it frees up an extra $182 each month through June, then $117 each month thereafter (because we don't need to save for weddings after June). It feels awesome!

I'd love to know--how would you spend $2,000? {If you haven't already, may we suggest taking Financial Peace University?}

P.S.We have been using TurboTax software since 2009 to do our taxes. The thing I love about them is that they have specific software programs geared toward individual needs. For example they have a program for individuals, business owners, students and even a  TurboTax Military Edition if you are in the armed forces. How cool is that?