Advertising
Advertising

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:

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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!

Advertising

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!

Advertising

Featured photo credit: Julien GONG Min via flic.kr

More by this author

Anna Johansson

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

20 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020 10 Uplifting Positive Affirmation Apps That Help You Re-Center on the Go hourglass as time is wasting 15 Ways You Are Wasting Time During the Day (And How to Stop) When You Have These Recipes, You No Longer Need to Suppress Your Appetite for Dessert. itchy skin 4 Natural Ways to Soothe Your Itchy Skin

Trending in Money

1 How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them 2 10 Steps To Help You Make Your First Million Dollars 3 21 Money Making Ideas to Try At Home Now 4 10 Best Ways to Save Money Faster and Smarter 5 8 Best Finance Apps For Effective Budget Tracking And Planning

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on November 27, 2020

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

2. Keep Goals Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

Advertising

4. Short Term Vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

Advertising

Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

  • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
  • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
  • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

Advertising

5. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

6. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

1. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

Advertising

3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding:

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

Use compound interest when setting financial goals

    Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

    Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

    4. Measure, Measure, Measure

    All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

    Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

    The Bottom Line

    Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

    and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

    More Tips on Financial Goals

    Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next