I must have had a surprised look on my face because she quickly added, "We just got our tax return."
I pinched my lips together. Mike and I had done several financial counseling sessions with Sue, and her husband, Bob. They were constantly spending more money than they had, landing in debt to creditors and family members. Each year, I watched their tax return disappear in days, always going toward things I would consider frivolous.
But, how people spend their tax return is their own business, isn't it?
Maybe not. How we spend our money is always God's business. So how can we honor the Lord by how we spend our tax return?
How should I spend my tax return?
Your tax return should be spend as prayerfully and carefuly as you spend the rest of your income. This is money you have paid the government, or your employor has paid the government for you, not a windfall of free money. As with all tthings financial, your tax return belongs to the Lord.
Should I tithe from my tax return?
That depends on whether you tithe from your gross or net income. Your gross income is the money you make before the U.S. government takes its cut through taxes. Net income is your income after taxes are paid. If you are self-employed, you are more likely to tithe from your gross income before you pay your taxes. The return you get has already been tithed from, but you might give an offering.
If you work for a company, you probably don't even see your gross income because the company pays the taxes you owe to the government before they write your paycheck. If you tithe from your net income, then you should tithe from your tax refund.
Should I pay off debt with my tax return?
This is a great way to spend your tax return. If you don't need to use this money to pay bills, you should pay off debt with your tax refund. You can throw a large chunk of money at debt, making a huge difference toward the process of becoming debt-free. If you are paying a mortgage on your home, consider putting some or all of your tax refund toward paying off you house. For many Christians, a mortgage is their only debt. What a great way to work toward being completely debt-free.
If your refund check is large enough, you may be able to elimiate an entire debt such as an old medical bill or school loan.
If you are debt-free and able to pay all your bills wihtout a problem, consider saying every penny of your tax refund. It takes self-control to put money aside and not touch it. Your refund may be God's way of providing for an upcoming financial need with the car, air conditioner, or family emergency. Don't just assume this money is not needed by your family at a later date.
Should I treat the family to a vacation with my tax return?
That would be a lovely idea, but stop and think first. Are there bills that need to be payed? Are there upcoming needs you need to save for? Do you have any debt. Pay off all debts frist, even if you just owe a family member money and they say, "Pay it back whenever you can."
If you are debt-free, have money in savings, and are able to keep up with your monthly bills without any problem, then consdier saving 1/2 money and spending the other helf on vacation.
Should I invest my tax return?
As in the vacation example, make sure that you are caught up in your bills, savings plan, and tithing. Pay off debts first before you invest. Interest on debts is always higher than interest on savings, so it doens't make sense to invest before you get rid of debt.
May God bless you as you use your tax return to the glory of God.
Merey (Meredith Ludwig Curtis)