By Jennifer Larson
If you’re fortunate enough to get a tax refund this year, consider spending some of it on your health.
The first thing to take into account is the size of your refund check. If you get a bigger check, you might be able to invest in some bigger-ticket expenses, perhaps for things that you’ve either been putting off or needed to save up for.
But even a small return can go a long way toward helping you improve your health.
Consider some of these ideas when you receive that tax refund.
Large refund choices
It could be very tempting to blow your whole refund on something frivolous and fun. But do you really want to do that?
“I recommend against using tax returns on one-use items,” says Houston-based psychiatrist Jared Heathman, MD. “Use it for something that will continually reap benefits if your life.”
Here are some ways to invest a larger refund into meaningful ways for improving your health:
Gym membership. This is almost a no-brainer. If you’re expecting a refund check, put some of that money toward a monthly (or annual) membership at a gym or fitness studio that really appeals to you. You’re more likely to go and use it if you like the environment and the instructors.
Dental work. This may be the time to schedule that dentist’s visit that you’ve been putting off. “If you put off some major dental work, problems can only get worse,” says Mike Golpa, DDS, a dentist, dental surgeon, and director of G4 by Golpa. “For example, crowns often protect the tooth from breaking apart or further decay. Postponing the visit to fix the issue can change the medium-sized problem into really serious work to do.”
Health coach. A health coach can help you examine your lifestyle and overhaul any not-so-healthy habits. Jill Weisbenberger, author, registered dietitian, and certified diabetes educator, suggests that you look for a health coach who’s also a credentialed health professional with expertise with any underlying health issues or specific concerns you have. Ideally, you could work with your coach for at least 12 sessions, she says.
A meal subscription. If you’re short on time and tend to rely too heavily on fast food, consider signing up for a healthy meal subscription. Delivered to your home on a regular basis, these meals may help you commit to eating a healthier diet. (It can also be a great time saver, which can in turn be a stress reducer!)
Health savings account. Sink some of that tax return into a health savings account so you can pay future healthcare expenses from it. “An HSA is a great way to take care of your future,” says Molly Ford-Coates, an accredited financial counselor and founder/CEO of Ford Financial Management. “In an HSA, your money grows tax-free, and if you are using it for a qualified medical expense, your withdrawal is also tax-free.”
A new hobby. Thinking about starting a new hobby, something fun that could get you to be more active? Go for it, says James Cobb, MSN, RN. This is the time to try golf, or tennis, or bowling, or whatever strikes your interest. It doesn’t have to be a sport, either. Maybe you want to put your muscles to work building a new deck for your home. “Also, when we face a health challenge, hobbies help us bounce back,” says Cobb. “They give us purpose, something to look forward to.”
Smaller check choices
A small refund can be a good improvement opportunity, too. A few ways to spend that return:
Sports equipment. Maybe you don’t have enough money to spend on something pricey, but you do have enough to buy a new tennis racquet, a bike, a yoga mat, or a new pair of running shoes. That’s definitely a worthwhile use of funds.
A race. A small refund check may give you enough funds to register for an upcoming run/walk or maybe even a couple of events in your community. Many event organizers are raising money for charity, so pick one that speaks to you and your interests.
New glasses. These days, eyeglasses are a fashion accessory as much as a vision aid. Combine the two and buy yourself a snazzy new pair that matches your attitude–or your favorite outfit.
Cooking classes. Check with your local community center or community college to find out if you can register for a healthy cooking class. Learning a few simple techniques for making healthier meals can pay off in terms of making it easier for you to eat healthy at home.
If you didn’t receive a tax refund check this year, there is still a way to save on your health all year-round: with the FamilyWize pharmacy discount card. Simply use our price lookup tool and find the pharmacies with lowest prices on all your medications.
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