How We Spent Our Tax Refund This Year

Some time ago on this site I offered up a question for readers to consider:  What would you do with $1,000?

In that article I shared what I’d do with that tidy sum if it found me.

Recently we got our tax refund back, a couple grand, so more than the “found money” I am referring to above.   A tax refund is a mixed blessing really.  On the good side, we were given money back.  On the downside, a tax refund means we just gave our government an interest-free loan over the last year.  On that note, I think getting a huge tax refund is undesirable and many Canadians should not welcome this although I know many people do.  This year, I put more money into my RRSP and got a larger tax refund back because of it (compared to previous years).   I suppose this created a good problem but I actually prefer to optimize my RRSP instead.  I hope to do a better job of managing my RRSP contributions this year…

In a more recent post I offered some suggestions to spend your tax refund wisely.  My suggestions included killing off credit card debt, reinvesting the tax refund into your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), starting an emergency fund, making an extra mortgage payment or investing in yourself.

What did we do this year?  Did I eat my own cooking?  For the most part the answer is yes.

Focus Area #1 Mortgage Debt

Since we have little consumer debt (a car payment), I figure part of this refund should go towards killing our greatest liability.   I think paying down our mortgage is one of the best investments we can make.  If your mortgage rate is 3%, you might think that’s cheap, and you’re right.  However on an after tax basis, since you pay your mortgage with after tax dollars, that 3% rate is probably closer to 5%.  That’s a decent guaranteed rate of return when you pay down your mortgage.  So, about half of our tax refund was put towards the mortgage.

Focus Area #2 RRSP

RRSPs are a great financial tool because the contribution you make to this account lowers your taxable income.  Although this RRSP-generated tax refund is really a long-term loan from the government (it’s a tax-deferred account you recall), at least I can shelter present value monies from taxation for a future tax payment I’ll be required to make.  A good portion of our tax refund was reinvested into our RRSPs.

Focus Area #3 Fun?

With maybe a couple hundred bucks leftover from the tax refund we are considering buying some patio furniture later this spring for our deck.  Then again, we can easily save for that money.

This year our tax refund was directed to areas #1 and #2.  Next year it might be different.  Stay tuned to learn about what we do in the future and why.

How did you spend your tax refund this year?  What do you make of our choices?

My name is Mark Seed - the founder, editor and owner of My Own Advisor. As my own DIY financial advisor, I'm looking to start semi-retirement soon, sooner than most. Find out how, what I did, and what you can learn to tailor your own financial independence path. Join the newsletter read by thousands each day, always FREE.

10 Responses to "How We Spent Our Tax Refund This Year"

  1. I received just under $1000 back which just went into the bank. We paid the mortgage off this month and now we will focus more on our investments and renovations. I’m going to say the money will be well spent no matter where it goes.

  2. I don’t like owing the government money, but I’d rather not have a tax refund because with that interest free loan, I could have been making money in interest. This year I didn’t get a tax refund (one of the first ever) but instead owed a couple thousand dollars. If I got it back instead, I think I’d just throw it all in my RRSP.

    1. I really dislike owing the government money, I feel they get enough for the services and programs I use. 😉

      As for the tax refund, I think if most people reinvested the money back into the RRSP and/or paid down debt, they can’t really lose.

      Thanks for the comment.

  3. Perhaps rather than figuring out what to do with the refund one should focus on not getting a refund in the first place – I dislike loaning money for free, ESPECIALLY to the government.

    Use that TD-1 form to your advantage and/or arrange for you to owe the government taxes in April – less than $2K to avoid quarterly payments.

    If you do get refund your suggestions are good.

    1. You raise a great point and this is why I should really try and optimize my RRSP, in that I mean, only get a very small refund back every year and instead of getting the fat refund, divert all other monies to debt payments or other investing ventures.

      Basically this year, I contributed too much into the RRSP although this is a good problem per se but rather not repeat it year after year…

      Thanks for the comment!


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