Remember that charitable donation you always said you were going to make if you had the money? That tax refund is a perfect opportunity to back up that hypothetical altruism.
The best part? If you pick the right charitable organization, you can just write it off on next year's taxes. That's not the most selfless tact in the world and it means you'll have to itemize next year, but if the loophole's there you may as well use it.
If there's any question about which charities qualify for the deduction, the IRS is glad to spell it out for you in the longest, most bureaucratic form possible. IRS Publication 78 spells out exactly which groups make the cut. It's a large, lengthy text file, but even charitable tax breaks require some sacrifice.
There's a strong chance that the home décor style of the moment is going to turn into your kid's kitschy off-campus furnishings within a generation, but that's still a lot of mileage from found money. Living room sets, dining room sets and kitchen sets in classic, clean inoffensive styles are your best bet, but other rooms will give you a better return on your investment?
If you're catching elbows to the face when your partner rolls over at night or your mattress is jabbing you in the side with a spring like it's trying to steal your wallet, consider throwing that $2,900 or so into bed with you. That price can get you a king or California-king-sized Tempurpedic, a king-sized Stearns & Foster or a king-sized Simmons Beautyrest at department stores such as Macy's(M) or Sears(SHLD), but it also gets you the only piece of furniture you're going to use 2,100 to nearly 3,000 hours a year.
Your tax refund may be too small to help you find a bigger place, but it can help you breathe a little easier by taking some stuff off your hands.
If the closets are crammed, the cabinets are stacked like a game of Tetris and the basement and attic are either lost causes or flat-out nonexistent. Your refund can help you clean out and organize while ensuring your stuff doesn't end up on a show like A&E's Storage Wars for nonpayment.
But can you afford it? With $2,900 in your pocket, easily. At 10-by-15-foot unit costs roughly $1,700 a year. Bump that up to 10 by 20 feet and it tops out at $1,900 a year, or $2,200 with climate control. Even if you max out with a 20-by-20-foot cavern, the $2,700 annual cost still falls within budget.