This year, Aussies are rushing to cash in on the low-and-middle income tax offset, which has recently been lifted from $530 to $1,080. With the average tax refund sitting around $2,500, it can be easy to send this money off to unpaid bills without a second thought, or treat yourself with an impulsive splurge.
According to ASIC’s MoneySmart website, half of Australians use their tax refund to either pay bills, pay down loans, or get on top of credit card payments.i While reducing debt is an excellent way to save on interest, you should also consider alternate ways you can use your tax refund to improve your financial position, and invest in you and your family’s future.
So before jumping in headfirst, make sure you take a moment to consider where you’ll be directing your refund this year to really give your money purpose.
Start an emergency savings fund
New research has found that 46% of Aussies (the equivalent of 5.9 million people), could not survive a month if they were suddenly unable to work.ii Are you one of them?
With millions of households struggling to make it to pay day every month, receiving your tax refund can provide a bit of relief. But before you direct your refund towards paying down bills, take a moment to think how you would cope with an unexpected expense, or if you suddenly lost your job.
By allocating your tax refund towards setting up an emergency savings fund, you’re able to mitigate the risk if something were to stop you from earning an income. It’s a good idea to keep your emergency cash in a separate account from your everyday money, so you’re not tempted to spend it on day-to-day costs.
While most experts suggest you aim to put aside three to six months’ living expenses, this can take a while to build up. However, your tax refund can give you a healthy kick start towards this goal, and help prepare you for any financial setbacks or unanticipated costs you may encounter.
Upskill for your career
You may like to consider directing some of your tax refund to refining your knowledge and skills. There are plenty of short courses and workshops on the market that focus on developing specific skills and knowledge areas, which fortunately means you don’t have to complete a holistic qualification in order to advance your career.
Adding to your CV one skill at a time can make a big difference to your performance, and eventually to your salary and opportunities. Several studies suggest that self-driven education throughout your lifetime can benefit three major areas: economic (more skills for employability), personal wellbeing (personal confidence, cognitive practice), and social (connect with people on different levels).iii So when your tax refund hits your bank account, take a second to think how you could upskill for your career.
Top up your super
With superannuation being one of the most effective investment vehicles for retirement savings, you may like to consider boosting your super with your tax refund. While this may not give you the instant satisfaction of treating yourself or paying off a bill, your future self will be thanking you in the long run!
If you’re looking to maximise your super savings even further, you may like to set up a salary sacrificing agreement with your employer. By sacrificing some of your pre-tax salary into your super on a regular basis, your super investments will have more opportunity to grow, especially with the magic of compound interest. Remember, it’s never too early (or too late!) to start contributing to your super.
Talk money with your kids
Raising financially savvy children means teaching them a variety of aspects from budgeting to planning, and helping them understand the value of a dollar. Research suggests that early experiences provided by parents which support children in learning how to plan ahead, and be reflective in their thinking, can make a huge difference in promoting beneficial financial behaviour.iv
So why not consider devoting some of your tax refund towards teaching your children about money? This may be in the form of a ‘dollar matching’ exercise where you’ll match them with $300 when they manage to save $300 of their own. Whichever form your teaching takes, it’s never too early to start discussing money with your kids. By making learning about money accessible and fun, parents can build a solid foundation of good financial skills that are vital to a child’s successful future.
Protect your family’s way of life
Our lifestyle, health and income are the building blocks of our wellbeing. So what would happen if death, illness or injury were to affect one of these building blocks?
While investing in the right type of protection for you and your family might not fill you with instant pleasure, it will give you the peace of mind that the right money will go to the right people when they need it most.
There are different personal insurances to consider, such as Income Protection, Critical Illness and Total & Permanent Disability (TPD). With so many different levels of cover to compare, choosing the right insurance for you and your family can be a challenge. That’s where we can help! If you’d like to invest your tax refund in personal insurance, get in touch with us for advice on the right level of cover for you and your family.
Before you point your tax refund towards the first thing that comes to mind, make sure you consider how you can make your tax refund go further this year. If you’re struggling to decide where your refund will make the most difference, you can get in touch with us for some professional guidance on 1300 850 757 or GBSAU_Admin@ajg.com.au.
i ASIC MoneySmart, 2018, How Australians spend their tax refunds. Retrieved from https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/managing-your-money/income-tax/how-australians-spend-their-tax-refunds
ii Finder, 2019, 5.9 million Australians live pay to pay. Retrieved from https://www.finder.com.au/press-release-july-2019-5-9-million-australians-live-pay-to-pay
iii Field, J. 2012, Is lifelong learning making a difference? Research-based evidence on the impact of adult learning. Retrieved from https://ec.europa.eu/epale/sites/epale/files/is_lifelong_learning_making_a_difference.pdf
iv Money Advice Service, 2013, New Study Confirms, Money Habits Are Set By The Age Of Seven Years Old, Retrieved from https://mascdn.azureedge.net/cms/habits-set-by-age-seven-pr-220513-final.pdf
The information and any advice in this article does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and so you should consider its appropriateness having regard to these factors before acting on it. When considering whether to acquire a financial product, before making any decision, you should obtain the relevant product disclosure statement.