You’ve worked hard all year, coloured inside the lines and tied up all your financial loose ends by filing your income tax return. Right about the time your refund lands in your savings account, you suddenly encounter overbearing gloomy advice online, warning you against the dangers of fun. Use your refund to pay down your loans. Put it aside for retirement. Stash it under your bed. Stock up on extra suncream for the summer. Whatever you do, don’t make the fatal error of actually spending it on something fun. Here are a few reasons to tune out depressing financial advice and still be sensible about your future.
Having Fun Keeps You Healthy
It’s true: There’s an entire scientific discipline called “psychoneuroimmunology” dedicated to studying the overlooked phenomenon of fun balancing with health. Once your basic needs for oxygen, food, water and shelter are met, your physical wellbeing depends on an unquantifiable “happiness quotient.” Spending your tax refund on something that brings a lasting glow is an investment in a healthier future. And who knows—maybe it will end up saving you a trip to the doctor in the future. Fun experiences you share with people close to you are guaranteed to pay dividends in the human currency.
Make It Count
What kind of fun are we talking about? In general, try to choose recreational spending that will still make you feel good six months from now. This means that buying a snowboard (and a lesson package) is a better idea than sitting down with a pile of chips at the blackjack table for a night. Proposing to your sweetie on the beach in Hawaii is likely to matter more to your life next year than buying fancy tyres for your car. Or maybe not. Just make sure that whatever floats your boat right now will still be floating it next year.
Stir in a Bit of Kindness and Common Sense
Spending money on pure fun feels more satisfying if it’s balanced by practicality and altruism. Taking care of financial essentials and looking after other people will free up your conscience to enjoy the fun you plan to have. So, yes, put some of that refund toward your credit card debt or make an extra car payment. Give away another chunk to make the world a better place. And with what’s left in your wallet, go for it! Explore a new city, take someone out for over-the-top cocktails, go skydiving or buy a ridiculous gift. It may be clichéd, but it is true: You only live once. (at least that is what we are told)