By Heather Johnson
Of the 244 million federal tax returns the Internal Revenue Service processed in 2016, about half resulted in refunds for filers. The IRS calculated the average refund at about $3,500, which means many Americans received a nice chunk of change from the government.
If you’re one of the lucky ones who receives a tax refund this year, set aside at least a portion of the money for a responsible splurge. One of the smartest ways to splurge while still feeling a bit decadent is to update your home decor. Consider these tips for putting your tax refund dollars to good use at home.
Replace Important Furniture
Maybe you just moved and need formal dining room furniture for the first time, or maybe your mattress is so old you can’t remember when you bought it. If a similar scenario sounds familiar, it’s time to acquire some new furniture. In many cases, it only takes a portion of the average refund to cover the cost.
“A $1,000 refund can go a long way with some smart shopping and creative thinking,” says Jane Cunningham, president of Room Resolutions, an interior design boutique based in Las Vegas, Nevada. “Is there a larger, more expensive piece you need, such as a new couch or bed? Start there, and make that the focus.”
Think about where you spend most of your time. That could be your bedroom, your home office, or your living room. A new mattress or an ergonomic desk chair and workstation could help ease aches and pains, and greater comfort potentially leads to reduced stress levels and a greater sense of happiness.
Reimagine Existing Furniture
A new coat of paint is sometimes all it takes to completely change the feel of a room. Spend part of your hard-earned tax refund on supplies to paint your bedroom or your bedroom furniture. Replace cabinet hardware, install new light fixtures, or reupholster your favorite chair for an updated look with minimal cost.
Get Creative with Accessories
If you have more home to furnish than your tax refund will cover, think about ways to scale it down. Instead of an entire suite of living room furniture, buy a colorful statement item that changes the look of the room all by itself. Instead of adding a natural wood headboard, change the bedding.
“Accessorize with smaller items, like throw pillows for the couch or a great duvet for the bed,” says Cunningham. “You can add other accessories for the room and smaller furniture over time, so your space is continually evolving.”
You want to invest your refund in quality furniture that will last a long time, and you want the best value for your dollar. To find both, consider shopping at used furniture stores and furniture clearance centers. “Used furniture stores are a way to get some of the best brands at a fraction of the cost than if it were new,” says Cunningham. Browse often to find the best deals, and when you come across one, snap it up. That great find may not be there if you come back a day (or even an hour) later.
CORT Furniture Clearance Centers offer quality, gently used furniture at up to 70 percent off new retail prices. Trained professionals inspect every item for condition and structural integrity. If any product purchased from one of its clearance centers is found to be defective within 90 days of purchase, CORT will repair or replace that item.
Don’t blow your tax refund on something frivolous that doesn’t provide a lasting benefit. Spend it on high-quality furniture and home improvements you can enjoy every day for many years to come.