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10 Ways to Wisely Spend Your Tax Refund

From weekend getaways to a wardrobe revamp, we've got 10 ways you can spend your IRS refund check and still save money in the process.
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Tax season is in full swing, and according to the latest figures from the IRS, 8 out of 10 filers will get a refund. Moreover, refunds have been averaging $3,539, which means many people will be receiving a generous return from Uncle Sam in the coming weeks.

Here at DealNews, we're all about being fiscally responsible; so if you're one of the lucky few to receive a big refund, we recommend you use most of that money to pay off any interest-heavy debts or bills. However, if your savings are in order and you're looking to treat yourself, we've got a few ideas you may want to check out.

Naturally, we like to stretch our dollar as far as possible, so we've looked into a variety of goods that can deliver the most bang for your buck, accompanied by tips on how you can purchase them on the cheap.

Beach Chairs

Treat Yourself to a Vacation

The ultimate splurge, a vacation could be just what you need to fully recover from a long winter. Cruises generally provide a good value since your room and meals are traditionally included. All-inclusive resorts are also a great way to save money if you do your research and have no dietary restrictions.

DealNews Pick: Traveling on the cheap is never easy, but vacationers can generally save extra money by avoiding trendy destinations. We've highlighted 2015's top 5 U.S. cities for traveling on the cheap, whether you're looking for the active night life of Vegas or the stunning mountain backdrops of Denver.


Weights Gym

Invest in Your Health

Combined with a healthy diet, working out is one of the best investments you can make in yourself. We understand that not everyone likes to hit the gym, but think of all the health benefits it entails.

While you could invest in a set of dumbbells and exercise from home, some people need the extra incentive of a gym to work out. Fortunately, now is a good time to join. During the spring months, when people are more prone to exercise outside, gyms offer promotions in an attempt to entice new members indoors. So wait a few more weeks for a sunny streak in your local forecast and then head to your gym to haggle a cut-rate deal.

DealNews Pick: The price of a gym membership varies based on where you live, but regardless of your city, you can always haggle your way to a lower rate. Never pay initiation fees and don't accept the first rate you're offered. And don't be afraid to walk out: a membership adviser's job is to enlist new members. You have the upper hand, not them.


Bike Rider

Hit the Roads to Stay in Shape

The best exercise is the kind you can commit to, so if you're not the type to workout at a gym, invest in a new bike that you can use for weekend workouts or for your everyday commute. You'll also want to invest in the proper cycling gear before hitting the road. Alternatively, running can be another outdoor option that you can practice pretty much anywhere.

DealNews Pick: Unless you already own a bike, running typically involves a lower financial obligation, since all you need are a decent pair of running shoes and comfortable clothes. Check out our running gear deals, where you can find shoes for as low as $30 a pair.


Wardrobe

Give Your Wardrobe a Makeover

A new suit can do wonders for an old wardrobe. And though you may think they're expensive, suits are discounted frequently throughout the year. Retailers like Jos. A. Bank and Men's Wearhouse are renown for their suit discounts and frequent buy-one-get-one-free suit sales.

DealNews Pick: Unlike most apparel, where price fluctuates based on the season, there's no ideal time to buy a suit. But this is a good thing because it means you can snag sales any time of the year.

For instance, Jos. A. Bank had multiple suit sales in March which took 60% to 70% off list prices. Macy's is another retailer with monthly suit sales, many of which can take up to 69% off various styles. Deals on women's suits are a little harder to come by, but we suggest looking at Banana Republic sales, which can take up to 40% off with free shipping.


Laptops

Upgrade Your Laptop

Although we're still weeks away from the start of any back-to-school sales — which is when many laptops see drastic price cuts — low-end and high-end Intel laptops are seeing a resurgence of deals as retailers attempt to clear out inventory for the arrival of Intel's 5th generation processor (codenamed Broadwell). On average, you can expect to pay around $260 for a low-end (Core i3-based) Haswell system, whereas a slightly more mainstream machine (Core i5-based) will set you back around $450.

DealNews Pick: If you don't mind waiting, the start of the summer will see an explosion of laptop deals as retailers aggressively discount all of their laptops for college-bound kids. That will yield prices that are lower than the aforementioned estimates. Last year, early back-to-school sales took an extra 23% off the laptop prices we saw in the early spring.


Weekend Drive

Enjoy a Weekend Getaway

Can't afford to take an extended vacation? Sometimes a weekend getaway can provide all the same benefits, but on a smaller budget and time frame. United Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Airlines frequently offer last-minute, discounted weekend fares across all parts of the country. Prices can range from $155 to $211 roundtrip.

DealNews Pick: For even lower rates, Southwest Airlines offers fares starting at $46 one-way. Alternatively, you can opt to drive and look for weekend packages from the likes of Groupon or Travelzoo. Check out our last-minute vacation deals for more ideas.


Massage

Give Your Body a Break

If you can't afford to go away on a vacation, then at the very least you should treat your body to one. Daily deal sites Groupon, LivingSocial, and Lifebooker regularly list deals on facials, massages, and other therapy packages with discounts as high as 50% off the original price.

DealNews Pick: While every deal is different from its predecessor, you can expect to pay roughly $50 for a 1-hour massage, although deals at boutique spas can cost a little more.


New TV

Upgrade Your TV

Whether you're looking for a bigger screen or want a new set for a spare bedroom, TV prices have never been cheaper. Although we're outside of TV-buying season — you'll see the best TV prices of the year during Black Friday — you can still find name-brand 55" sets for around $500, which has been our average deal price since the start of the year for TVs in this size range.

DealNews Pick: While it's possible to find cheap 4K HDTVs these days, we recommend opting for a big-screen 1080p set instead. 4K technology is still maturing and this year's crop of 4K TVs is bound to see significant deals before year's end.


Camping Gear

Stock Up on Outdoor Gear

With summer fast approaching, now is an ideal time to stock up on outdoor winter gear, such as ski and snowboarding gear for next year's snow-related activities. As far as spring and summer activities are concerned, you'll start to see deals on summer items like tents, backpacks, and water bottles from top-shelf vendors like REI and Altrec in May and June.

DealNews Pick: Popular brands like The North Face and Marmot tend to receive deep discounts from retailers like REI and Moosejaw, the latter of which has taken up to 65% off these name brands. Although they don't specialize in outdoor gear specifically, 6pm has recently had multiple sales on The North Face apparel with discounts reaching up to 70% off.


Money Jars

Pay Yourself

Even if your finances are in order and your credit cards are paid in full, you can never save too much money. So why not open a new savings account that you can use for a rainy day. Alternatively, you can use that money to splurge on any one of the aforementioned purchases down the line, or save it for a personal splurge you can make on Black Friday.

DealNews Pick: Oftentimes, banks offer incentives or rewards to first-time customers. These freebies can range from $50 to $100 credits upon sign up. In the past, we've seen such promotions from Capital One and Chase.

Regardless of how you spend your money, you can rely on DealNews to help you stretch your dollars to the max. For the best deals, head straight to our Editors' Choice page, sign up for the DealNews Select Newsletter, or download our app to stay on top of the latest deals.


Senior Features Writer

With over a decade of experience covering technology, Louis Ramirez has written for CNET, Laptop, Gizmodo, and various other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @louisramirez.
Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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5 comments
Kplan23
You're not only giving your state and federal government interest free loans, but you're loosing the short term use of that money for living, savings or investing, plus today's meager interest or investment opportunities.
johnnylately
I agree with Woshishei. If you get a tax refund that means you gave the government an interest free loan and they just paid it back. Best tax planning means you owe money without incurring penalties, which is like you getting an interest free loan then paying it back. Just an opinion, not advice.
potbelly2013
Good advice Louis and Lindsay. Responsibility before pleasure. My choice for "extra money" would be tools to work on auto or home. They pay off many times after buying.
dealnews-Lindsay
@Woshishei

We note this in the intro:

Here at DealNews, we're all about being fiscally responsible; so if you're one of the lucky few to receive a big refund, we recommend you use most of that money to pay off any interest-heavy debts or bills. However, if your savings are in order and you're looking to treat yourself, we've got a few ideas you may want to check out.
Woshishei
People need to stop acting like tax returns are "free money" or some kind of "bonus". This is money that was yours in the first place. Maybe pay off some of your debt before splurging.