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4 Surprising Ways You Can Invest Your Tax Return for Even More Money

4 Surprising Ways You Can Invest Your Tax Return for Even More Money

When most people get their tax returns back – which can sometimes reach a few thousand dollars – it’s almost like scoring another payday. But the problem with these returns is that people tend to look at them as “free cash” or “play money,” when the reality is that you earned that money. It was simply withheld from you and is finally coming your way.

If you want to be smart about how you use your money, you shouldn’t just go out and blow the money on discretionary purchases. In fact, this is the perfect opportunity to dip your feet into the investment world. While you may not be able to get involved in high-dollar investments, you can certainly try some avenues that only require a few hundred or thousand dollars to get started.

Here are a few:

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1. Penny Stocks

While there’s no reason you can’t get involved in standard stock trading with a few thousand dollars, it’s not always the smartest move to go from no investing activity to high-dollar stock investments. Instead, you may want to get started with lucrative penny stock investing.

As the name suggests, penny stocks are stocks that are typically priced at less than one dollar. While these stocks are much less regulated than the ones you see on the Dow Jones, Nasdaq, or S&P500, they can also grow at a much swifter pace. Check out this guide to see if this could be a good low-entry investment for you.

2. Mutual Funds

Are you interested in standard stock market investing – but afraid of the risks? You can actually eliminate much of your risk by choosing mutual funds. While most require a minimum investment of a few thousand dollars, some will even let you get started with just a few hundred dollars.

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In a mutual fund, your money gets pooled together with thousands of other investors and a mutual fund manager then diversifies the funds across many different high-performing stocks to yield strong returns (without heavy risk). When the stock market is performing well, you can earn very solid returns.

3. Peer-to-Peer Lending

If you’re willing to take on a bit more risk – and like the idea of helping others – you may consider peer-to-peer lending. This direct method of debt financing lets individuals – like yourself – lend money to people who need financial assistance to pay for home improvements, launch a business, or purchase a car.

Using a website like Lending Club, you can choose who you want to lend to, set the terms, and collect interest. While there is a certain amount of risk associated with lending, the average rate of return is generally between five and eight percent. Not bad!

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4. Make a Down Payment on Real Estate

Everyone knows just how profitable real estate investments can be, yet few of us ever have the funds to get started. Well, now is as good a time as any to start building your real estate empire.

With just a few thousand dollars, you can place a down payment on a small rental property that you can then use to cash flow a few hundred dollars per month. By doing your due diligence and making a smart decision, you can also expect most properties to naturally appreciate over time. It’s a great way to diversify your portfolio.

Make Smart Choices

People often complain about not having enough money to set aside for investments. Well, maybe it’s time that you start looking at your annual tax return as an investment fund that can be used to fund things like penny stocks, peer-to-peer lending, down payments, and other things. You won’t be sorry!

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Featured photo credit: Julien GONG Min via flic.kr

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Anna Johansson

Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends.

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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