What to do With a Tax Refund

IRS Tax Refund

It is hard to believe that tax filings were due six weeks ago. So, it is about time that those getting refunds are receiving checks or electronic deposits. It is often difficult to find fruitful ways to use the money. Keeping in mind this was your money to begin with, it is always a good idea to use the proceeds to invest in more ways to save money.

Here are a few ideas –

  1. Start, or add to, an emergency fund. If we have learned anything in the last five years of economic uncertainty, it is to be ready with back-up funds for whatever unexpected thing comes your way.
  2. Invest in yourself – consider taking a course in something that sparks a new career interest. Or, buy some workout equipment to get in shape.
  3. Invest in Assets – thinking about buying some land or a new vehicle? This money could be used to lower future payments.
  4. Retirement – put money away now, and watch it grow tax free – win, win.
  5. Pay down debt – the sooner that debt goes away, the less interest you are paying. Less interest means more available for other needs later.
  6. Selling your home? – use a refund to spruce up areas of your home and maximize the re-sale potential.
  7. Energy Savings – ever consider new appliances or energy saving alternatives? This money could be used to upgrade and then save over the long term.
  8. Get prepared – use funds to stockpile canned foods, water, batteries or other items needed during storms or other catastrophes.
  9. Health – if you have been putting off getting a health issue checked, now is the time.
  10. Travel – put a down payment toward a trip you have been considering. The bite will be less later.
  11. Charity – nothing feels better than helping those that need it. Donate to a local cause or a large charity with strong discipline to meet their intended goals.

It is always better to look forward and plan good uses than to look back and wonder where it all ended up.

Play Atari Breakout on Google Images

The Google team has struck again(more fun with search). The easter eggs that this team develops and delivers means never a dull moment when searching. This time they have embedded a version of Atari Breakout. To play, go to Google Images. In the search box type in Atari Breakout. Wait a few seconds and the results will re-align into a brick grid and a ball and paddle will appear. Just use your keyboard arrows or mouse to move the paddle back and forth. Can you beat your high score from the 80’s?

Atri Breakout on Google

Junk in Your Trunk Club, Part II

Yesterday, Trunk Club and their unique business model was the topic of discussion. This innovative model cuts out the process of going to a store and selecting items. Instead, clients can work with a stylist via phone or e-mail and have items delivered to try on and either keep or send back.

Intrigued by this opportunity, I went forward and ordered a “trunk”. The items I received were nice. I liked the styles. The items all went together well. The sizes were mostly right and fit well. Then, I looked at the prices. For eight items (3 l/s shirts, 1 s/s shirt, 1 sweater, 2 jeans, 1 pants), at full retail price, I was looking at a bill >$1,000. Those that know me know that I rarely pay full retail price and would not ever spend $1,000 on eight items of clothing. So, I sent the box back (postage paid by Trunk Club) and opted out of future service.

While I still like the prospect of selected items that can enhance and build my wardrobe, I am not willing to sacrifice my wallet for it. I am not cheap; I just know that there are better offers/deals/promotions out there to make the purchase more value oriented. Having previously run the wildly popular DealTaker.com website, my next step was to look up all of the items on my invoice online and see if I could source them in a way that was better for the pocketbook. After a short review, I was able to determine that I could indeed get all of the items online and at about a 30% discount on the total by using promotion codes or just seeing lower prices direct from the clothier.

Now to the title of these posts – Junk in Your Trunk Club. It may sound harsh and I may be exaggerating for effect. However, three of the items in the trunk I received were over a season old. I found the exact items on discounter websites for >50% off. Granted, I liked the items; however, why would I pay FULL retail price for items that companies had already jobbed out to discounters? It seems to me a “stylist” would factor in current trends to provide “style”.

Certainly this is a model ripe for disruption. I now move forward in that quest.

Junk in Your Trunk Club

It is interesting to see new business models emerge. I am a fan of smart business models that change the way things are done – when done for the better. Recently there has been a focus on mens clothing in the start-up world. In particular being able to order men’s clothing online with the help of a stylist. Because I am a fan of new business models, I decided to give it a try and see if there was substance to the model. While there are several new concepts out there, I opted to try the one that I have seen the most press surrounding – Trunk Club.

Trunk Club is based in Chicago, Il (directly downtown in a 30,000 square foot facility). While anyone is allowed to come to the facility and work with a stylist directly, the majority of the interaction is online. You can go to their website and put in some pertinent size and contact information. A personal stylist then reaches out by e-mail and phone to start a relationship. When talking to the stylist on the phone, you are asked what styles of clothing you like, what you wear to work, what you wear on the weekends, what you aspire to wear and your credit card information. From that, the stylist goes to the warehouse and pulls a selection of clothing he/she recommends based on the brief interaction. The items are boxed in a nice cardboard trunk and shipped. Shipping (via Fedex) is paid by Trunk Club.

Upon arrival, recipients open the trunk to see a selection of shirts, pants, sweaters, etc. A note from the stylist encourages trying on everything; mixing and matching to get accustomed. Along with the paperwork is an invoice with the price of each item (at full – off the shelf – non-discounted – retail price). Whatever you do not like or want can be put back in the trunk and shipped back to Trunk Club. They pay the shipping back, too. Whatever you keep is charged to your credit card at the full retail price. Within a short period of time another trunk will be sent by your stylist to keep building your wardrobe. …and so on until you decide to opt out.

Generally, that is a great concept and one that has already garnered a nice little business for the company. So, why would I title this post “Junk in Your Trunk Club”…tune in to part II.

AMEX + Local Small Business = $25 Saturday November 24, 2012

American Express is running a very rich offer the day after Black Friday (Saturday, this November 24th) this year.

All you have to do is register your American Express card at their Shop Small Business page. Once done, you will get your one-time $25 statement credit from American Express when you use your enrolled Card to spend $25 or more in a single, in-store transaction at a qualifying small business location.  Visit www.shopsmall.com for information about qualifying small business locations.

Small businesses are the heartbeat of our communities and supporting them is a great way to help fuel the local economy.

For Offer Terms visit: www.shopsmall.com/offerterms.

My Review

Pick, Click, Ship

By kstraw from Frisco, TX on 7/10/2012

 

5out of 5

Pros: Easy to Order, Long Lasting Filter, Easy To Clean, Easy To Install, Clean Taste, Durable, Great Prices, Quick shipping

Best Uses: Replacement, Improving Taste, Improving Water Quality

Describe Yourself: Budget Shopper

Primary use: Personal

The site made it easy to find my exact filter needed for my refrigerator. Check-out was simple. I ordered in bulk to save on shipping and to get a slightly better discount. Easily beats driving to the store to pay full retail price.

(legalese)

Look Back to Look Forward

When I started this blog about four years ago (really the second incarnation of it), I wanted to be able to capture general musings about disintegrated things.  For the most part, I think I have done that.

I have one post that gets about 10-15 visits per day (New Indicator of a Stroke – The Tongue).  Others show up in searches, apparently, at random times.  So, last week, I decided to go back to the beginning and stroll forward through the posts.  Now I see why Facebook was so interested in the timeline format and why Google plays the commercial, over and over again, about the dad writing e-mails to his child.  Sometimes we have to look back to look forward.  The memories are as important as the things to which we strive.  I highly suggest spending time re-reading the posts that have been written and hearken back to how, why and to whom they were written.  The value is immense.

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