Blowing My Tax Refund On Life

For the first time in my income earning life, I plan on spending my tax refund on something fun in 2017.  Every time I did get a tax refund I would just put it away in savings or pay down debt.  That's pretty boring, especially since I'm already a saving fiend, spending only 30% of my gross income and banking the rest.

My federal tax refund isn't large at around $500 bucks.  I'm happy with this amount as it's a good balance between not giving the government more than they should get and being large enough that I can do something fun with it.  My California tax refund is much larger because California is broke and screwed us in 2010 by withholding more than they should have to pay their debts.

Despite California taking more than they should, I'm still happy to get my money back.  Just a year ago, California issued IOUs!  We learned from a previous article that the average tax refund is $3,000.  I also highlighted some practical things to do with your tax refund such as get more education and invest in a business.  Unfortunately, I'm sick of being financially savvy at the moment and there's no way I'm going to pursue my PhD!


I think I have a savings problem and don't spend enough on life.  I plan to write more about this savings problem in a future post.  But in the mean time, I've decided to use any windfalls to live it up!  I've decided to take a week off and go to Hawaii with someone special next month!

* $1,300: Two economy round-trip tickets to Kauai.

* $1,500: Five nights at some resort (off peak).  Staying with friends for the other couple nights.

* $700: Food for two for seven days and six nights.

* $800: Adventures such as taking a catamaran around the island, helicopter tours, para-sailing, and hiking tours.

* $700: Cash for whatever the heck that comes up.

That's $4,300 of my tax refund right there that I'm not going to use to do anything financially savvy.  Shoot, I guess $5,000 is a lot to splurge on after adding everything up, but darn it, I'm trying not to care and forcing myself to spend!  I plan on fulfilling one of my resolutions to take 6 weeks off again in 2011 and this Hawaii trip will get me one third of the way there.


There are endless opportunities to make more money.  The problem with me, and many of my friends is that we get so wrapped up with what we are doing at work and the side-gigs we have that we forget to live it up a little.  The irony is that the better we do, the more is asked of us and the more we have to do!

Taking 6 weeks off in 2016 was one of the best decisions of my life.  I felt rejuvenated, relaxed, and full of vigor. The freedom to chase storms and paradise upped my joy of work one more notch.  It made me realize again the reason why vacations are so fun is because of work and vice versa.  Here's to splurging!


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Updated for 2018 and beyond. I've decided to live it up a little this year with regards to spending money! Turned 40 in 2017, and life is flying by QUICK!

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39 thoughts on “Blowing My Tax Refund On Life”

  1. I’m spending our refund on plane tickets to Indonesia for the family. Enjoy your time in Hawaii!

  2. Money Reasons

    I was going to go to Hawaii, but my family decided the way to see one of the last space shuttle missions this summer instead (and to swim with the dolphins in florida).

    So that’s where my extra money is going, eventually… It’s all about the kids… :)

  3. Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer

    I had to pay the feds about a hundred and got that 1 1/2 times that back from the state so can’t do much with that amount!

    Have a great time in Kauai. I agree with all that mentioned money is best spent on experiences.

  4. Wow, saving 70% of your gross income is crazy fantastic. Congrats on getting such a large tax refund to boot! I only got $1000 back from the Canadian government this year :(

    PS Kuaui sounds fantastic! A good way to spend your tax refund, for sure.

  5. I’m glad that you agree with my thinking. I think a good balance for a refund is somewhere between $0 and $1,000. This way, you still get something back, and you didn’t let the government use too much of your money at a 0% rate.

    One of my friends was extremely excited because they were receiving almost $10,000 back from the government….. I did my best not to tell them they were an idiot….

    1. Whatever makes them happy though. If they had spent the $10,000 throughout the year and weren’t able to save, invest, or pay down debt… then it’s probably for the best for them.

  6. Enjoy it, Sam. I was going to go to Hawaii too this year, but with my employment situation pretty dicey, I don’t think that is prudent for me or my family. So we’ll be hanging at a beach house here in California instead.

    All the best,

    Len Penzo dot Com

  7. Kuaui is fantastic! I’m sure you’ll love it. One fun thing my wife and I did on our honeymoon is rented kayaks to go inland. It was such an adventure. They gave us two kayaks, a water-proof map, and a dry-lock bag and let us loose. The idea was you paddle up a series of conecting rivers/streams, leave your kayak on the shore and then hike to a hidden water fall…..all by navigating the map (much easier than it sounds…..the navigation i mean, not the paddling and hiking). When you get to the secret water fall there’s all sorts of wild chickens running around. Crazy!

    p.s. I try never to have a tax refund. I hate the idea of the IRS making interest on my money!

  8. Alternatively, you could sign up for a British Airways card and get 100,000 miles with a minimum spend of $2000. I’m pretty sure that you have excellent credit and you could hit the spend on one month of your tennis club dues. Save some money that way, I suppose…

  9. I had to pay Uncle Sam $42k because I got a big bonus that was tax exempt abroad… so I did my part to help pay down the debt. Nevertheless we took $6k to go to the Maldives where I am writing now.

    Sam, you should check it out- you can go straight from your ocean private villa to a balcony that descends to the sea that is full of coral and fish. It is an incredible place- 500 miles South West of the tip of India so it is a journey to get here but is worth it in my opinion.

    Check out the hotel website (each atoll has a private hotel and there are 160 hotels in the Maldives):


  10. They say people are way more satisfied when purchasing an “experience” rather than more stuff. I have to agree. I have so many happy memories of trips or events than I do of furniture or savings accounts. Of course, that’s when you can afford it. As I get older I realize you have to slow down and enjoy things with the people you love & who love you. You could save the refund but that short burst of satisfaction won’t be nearly as enjoyable as being in Hawaii with your important someone and friends. Of course, the fact that you don’t do this often & it’s a treat is what makes it so special. Then there’s that extra little icing on the cake that you can afford it, no stress about bills when you get home. I’m with you, enjoy the trip. My tax refund is going towards an important milestone in my life, my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. It gives me a lot of pleasure to be able to arrange a special day for them, including a great venue with catering, etc. They don’t know about it yet (will have to tell them shortly or I’ll be the surprised one when the book a trip out of town) and I can’t wait to enjoy the day with them. This’ll be way more fun that tucking the money away.

  11. If one has to work so many weeks out of the year, it’s easy to justify spending $5000 for a week’s vacation.

    But if one didn’t have to work all those weeks, it’d be possible to take that $5000 and have a whole lot of vacations, and have a lot more fun times.

  12. Awesome! We love Kauai. It’s a lot more quite than Maui and Oahu and you can really relax. Don’t miss the snorkeling! We owe Uncle Sam quite a bit of money this year, it’s a good thing I knew it was coming and saved my bonus for this. Now that we have a baby, I think next year we’ll get a better deal from the fed. :)
    Have fun!

  13. Im ashamed that I got a $5,000 refund back, poor tax planning on my part… though I did buy a house last year, lost a job, and got a new job all around the same time lol….so things got a bit confusing.

    I used mine on consumer debt, and savings/investing. Though I dont save nearly the percentage of my income that you do, so I would say that you should go ahead and enjoy yourself with that money!

  14. I got a $1700 refund. I saved $1000 of it and took $700 to the casino. How’s that for splurging? Yeah, I walked out minus $700 but we had a lot of fun. I save half of my income, so a splurge is good for my soul every now and then.

  15. Sam –
    I’d love to blow my refund (que more whining about having to pay) and your trip looks like it will be a blast. It seems expensive (but I’m poor) but it looks like you’ll have a lot of fun. I’ve been to a few of the islands, but not the one you’re headed to.
    I usually do what Evan does – save/pay down debt with most of my windfall, but use 10-20% of it for something that I think would be fun or a want (last time I bought some cast-iron cookware).

    1. Hey Jeff, it’s good to be poor, b/c when you’re poor, there’s only upside! :)

      It does seem expensive the trip, hence the term “splurge.” Ohwell. I don’t think i’ll regret it one bit. Have fun splurging on the 10-20%!

  16. How does a refund $500 lead to spending $4,300? I get it, you are using it to splurge, but do you really need an excuse? About ten years ago, we started going on major (overseas) trips every other year and the off year traveling to New York, Vancouver and soon New Orleans. It may be a splurge or not, dying with a lot of money does not make sense either! How much do I need to live well in retirement? $10,000 won’t change my lifestyle! I might as well enjoy life along the way. Unfortunately, I paid income tax this year! I don’t need an excuse to enjoy myself and neither do you!

    1. It really would be blowing my money if I spent $4,300 on only a $500 refund. But what you’re missing is that I have a state refund as well which I didn’t specify.

      I feel I have a lot of fun and am vey aappreciator of what I have, yet I still feel that I should be splurging and slacking off more. Life is too short to be so focused!

  17. We are earmarking about 20% of the refund for a mini-vacation to Atlanta to see my Falcons for the first time at home!

  18. I agree that if you’re already saving 70% of your income, you should splurge on spending your tax refund however you’d like. A vacation to Kauai sounds awesome (that’s my favorite island- quiet and beautiful!)

    I’m not getting much back this year, but I also am not saving as much of my income as I’d like, so I’ll be doing something boring with my refund this year -like saving it!

  19. Sunil from The Extra Money Blog

    it’s an easier decision to pull off for someone already “established”. glad you highlighted the corporate trap most find themselves in, unfortunately years later. the irony is that many work their chops off to get themselves to that point . . . where one gets paid more to work more, take up more stress and produce more. i am glad you are investing the excess money you don’t really need into yourself and building memories that will last a lifetime.

  20. I think you should enjoy that 5k. Anyone that saves 70 percent of their income should be able to do whatever they want with such a surplus.

    As usual, we owe federal taxes, but just 97 dollars. We are getting a few hundred back from State. That money will just go in the checking account and will ultimately go toward medical bills we have been hit with this year.

    1. Yeah, I should really spend more. I have this goal to retire in 5-10 years and so I’ve been saving more aggressively. But frankly, I may never want to retire, which mean I should flip that around and spend 70% of my income if so!

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