Guess what time it is now that tax season is over? Vacation season! Chances are, your tax refund is on the way. It may even be a sizable amount because the IRS reports that the average federal tax refund is in the neighborhood of average tax refund is nearly $3,000. That money can obviously put to use in a number of places, but there are some bad ways to spend a tax refund. Usually if you’re spending the refund on big-ticket items like electronics or a lavish vacation when you have more pressing financial issues is a bad idea, but if you aren’t dealing with credit card debt and have your financial house in order you can very well treat yourself to a little rest and relaxation on a budget.
Spending a little time away from home is great, but travel costs can turn even a simple vacation into an expensive proposition. Obviously, air travel is costly, especially with all the new fees, so sticking to a local vacation spot can save literally hundreds of dollars. So, toss the idea of flying across the country or overseas and look local. You may be surprised what attractions that are just a few hours away. Look to some of your state’s tourism info and get ideas for what might be interesting to you. Gas may be expensive, but a couple tanks of gas is still far less than a pair of $400 round trip tickets.
Take the Train
In today’s society it’s all about rushing around and getting as much done in as little amount of time as possible. That’s why slowing down a bit and taking your time can be rewarding in and of itself. Taking the train is a leisurely way to travel and save a bundle. For example, I can get an Amtrak ticket to take me from Chicago to Kansas City for just $61 and the trip takes about 7 hours. Guess what? If I wanted to drive that same trip it would cost me more than double in gas and take almost exactly as much time. Plus I’d be behind the wheel the entire time.
By taking the train you have a chance to relax while saving money. Since you aren’t driving you won’t be dealing with stressful traffic, stopping for gas, or worry about falling asleep at the wheel. Instead you can kick back in the train car and read a book, play games on your iPad, watch a movie, or grab a meal.
Go On a Cruise
A cruise can be either a very inexpensive vacation or extremely expensive. It is up to you to decide, but if you’re a smart shopper you can have yourself a wonderfully inexpensive vacation. Start looking far in advance with various cruise lines and consider cruising during the usual “off-season” to save even more.
It isn’t uncommon to find cruise specials for less than you could even get a hotel room anywhere else. I’ve seen 5-day Caribbean cruises for less than $300! That’s less than $60 a day and the best part is all your meals are included and there’s plenty of onboard entertainment that won’t cost you another dime. Try staying at a beachfront hotel and eat three meals a day for less than sixty bucks. You won’t be able to.
Sure, if you don’t live near a port you’ll have to pay for transportation to get there, but these destinations usually have affordable fares. Even so, a round-trip ticket and the cruise fare will often be less than $1,000 per person so you can take that vacation with your spouse and still have some tax refund money to spare.
Still looking for your tax refund? Here’s more information on how to find your tax refund.