Get the app
Get the app

Join millions of investors on Stash

Investing, simplified

Start today with as little as $5
Get the app

Tax Refund 2018 On the Way? Here’s How People Are Using Theirs

January 30, 2019

3 min read

Like a lot of people, you may dread tax season—no one likes owing money, after all. But it often comes with a silver lining. A green lining, actually, in the form of tax refunds.

While some people choose to take only the bare minimum out of their paychecks to pay the government throughout the year, others count on that annual chunk of cash to get ahead on their loans, renovate their houses, maybe even go on a little shopping spree.

We spoke with five people across the U.S. who have big plans for their refunds.

John Walko

Small business owner
Charlotte, North Carolina
Refund strategy: Work and play

“My wife and I are expecting around $9,000 this year,” Walko says. “We are looking to invest $4,500 into our business.”

The Walko’s own a 5-year-old web design and marketing company. They’re planning to boost the company’s presence with postcards and other marketing materials as well as ads on Facebook and Google.

As for the rest of it? Packing up the family, his wife and three daughters, ages 5 to 11, for a sunny vacation to Bermuda.

“We’re planning to take a cruise with our three daughters. We think the cruise would be an exciting thing for them,” he says. “All the cake and ice cream you can eat.”

“I think cruises are one of the best value vacations a family can have,” he says.  “We think it will be an exciting thing for them. All the cake and ice cream you can eat.”

Alex Tran

Digital marketing strategist
Seattle, Washington
Refund strategy: Home remodel

“I’m getting about $3,500 back,” Tran says. “I’m spending my refund on remodeling my kitchen and patio.”

Tran, who works with an e-commerce and logistics company, says she and her boyfriend have been saving for this remodel for two years.

“We live in a tiny 2-bedroom condo,” she says. “We want more space and more light to come into our home.”

That means tearing down one wall to create an open kitchen area and then tearing down another one between the patio and the living room to create a bigger living space.

“I will have my meditation corner and our living room area will be more welcoming,” she says.

Marc Andre

Personal finance blogger
York, Pennsylvania
Refund Strategy: Charity and saving for Disney

“My wife and I are planning to get a tax refund of about $2,000 to $3,000,” says Andre, a financial blogger. “We’re planning to use it in two ways: saving towards a family vacation and charitable giving.”

The couple hopes to take their 3 and 6-year-old daughters on their first trip to Disney World in February 2020, “so this is a good opportunity to get a head start on saving for that expense.”

The couple is also passionate about giving back. The charities they’ve picked out are humanitarian organizations that fight human trafficking.

“We normally don’t have as much money as we’d like to set aside for these types of expenses,’ Andre says. “But the extra money from the tax refund will make it possible.”

Danny Williams

Federal law enforcement
Kent, Washington
Refund strategy: Pay off a cross-country move and pay bills

Williams, who moved from southern Louisiana to the Pacific Northwest last year, says his refund this year—hopefully between $3,000 and $5,000—will first go towards paying off some of the costs of the move, which he made with his family to take a new job.

“Under the new tax law, these expenses are no longer tax-deductible, even though I moved for my job with the federal government,” he says.

Williams says he and his wife like to use their refund for something fun like a new television or something for their kids. But not this year. After paying off their moving expenses, the rest of the refund is going to pay bills, namely the mortgage on the house they closed on right before Christmas.

Kathie Steinert

Retired teacher
Suffield, Connecticut
Refund strategy: Pay down the car loan (and maybe pad the vacation fund).

When Steinert gets her $3,500 back from the IRS this year, she plans to first “throw a little extra into paying off the car,” adding that she still has about $10,000 left to pay on her 2018 Honda Accord.

She’ll save the rest for a vacation whenever her wife can get away from work.

“I want to go to the Greek islands, but I think [she] wants to go to some island off of Florida,” Steinert says. “I’m fine with that. It’s less expensive, and as long as we get away some place, I’ll be happy.”

Consider Stashing it

Have a tax refund coming your way? Consider stashing it in a Stash Retire account.

Make your future money

Learn more about Stash Retire

Start now

By Sarah Netter
Sarah Netter is a is a freelance contributor for Stash Learn, based in New Orleans. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and ABC News.

Next for you
Your 2018 Tax Return: What You Need to Know

Investment Profile

Bonds Worldwide

An International Bond ETF on Stash

Learn more
Explore more articlesChoose a topic to learn more about
Technology Careers budgeting love and money social media

This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, represents an assessment of the market environment as of the date of publication, is subject to change without notice, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice or opinion. Stash assumes no obligation to provide notifications of changes in any factors that could affect the information provided. This information should not be relied upon by the reader as research or investment advice regarding any issuer or security in particular. The strategies discussed are strictly for illustrative and educational purposes and should not be construed as a recommendation to purchase or sell, or an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security. There is no guarantee that any strategies discussed will be effective.

Furthermore, the information presented does not take into consideration commissions, tax implications, or other transactional costs, which may significantly affect the economic consequences of a given strategy or investment decision. This information is not intended as a recommendation to invest in any particular asset class or strategy or as a promise of future performance. There is no guarantee that any investment strategy will work under all market conditions or is suitable for all investors. Each investor should evaluate their ability to invest long term, especially during periods of downturn in the market. Investors should not substitute these materials for professional services, and should seek advice from an independent advisor before acting on any information presented. Before investing, please carefully consider your willingness to take on risk and your financial ability to afford investment losses when deciding how much individual security exposure to have in your investment portfolio.

Past performance does not guarantee future results. There is a potential for loss as well as gain in investing. Stash does not represent in any manner that the circumstances described herein will result in any particular outcome. While the data and analysis Stash uses from third party sources is believed to be reliable, Stash does not guarantee the accuracy of such information. Nothing in this article should be considered as a solicitation or offer, or recommendation, to buy or sell any particular security or investment product or to engage in any investment strategy. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission. Stash does not provide personalized financial planning to investors, such as estate, tax, or retirement planning. Investment advisory services are only provided to investors who become Stash Clients pursuant to a written Advisory Agreement. For more information please visit