Tax season is here. (Cue collective shudder.) Whether you owe money or expect a refund from the federal government, mid-April has become an annual time of stress for most Americans. But tax season shouldn’t be all doom and gloom. For many, it’s a time to get a little expendable cash in the form of a positive refund. In fact, there were about 111.8 million refunds in 2019, with the average refund hitting $2,869. Not too shabby, right?
While we aren’t accountants, and can offer next to nothing in terms of optimizing your return, we can offer some ways to spend a (hopefully) sizable refund. One place to start? Your car and its related expenses. It’s a no brainer: cars are expensive, and an investment of this size should be safeguarded as much as possible.
No matter the age or price tag of your car, a little upkeep goes a long way. Here are just a few ways you can spend a refund to boost the safety of your time spent on the road.
An Oil Change
What’s one of the easiest ways to increase the life of your vehicle? By maintaining the proper amount of oil in your engine and changing its oil and filters as recommended. While you should already be performing routine changes throughout the year if needed (You do get routine oil changes, right?!) tax season may be a perfect time to ensure you’re caught up.
Is there a perfect metric for oil changes? Not really. While many mechanics swear by the 3,000-mile mark, it depends on factors like how you drive, where you live, and how old your car is. What’s more, synthetic and conventional oils affect frequency. Ultimately, you should consult your owner’s manual to get a true read on how often you should perform oil changes.
An Annual Tune-Up
We get it. Spending your hard-earned dollar on a preventative tune-up can be a hard sell for many Americans. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”, right? But a little TLC can go a long way with a car that needs some. That’s why you should consider spending your extra cash on a tune-up.
A tune-up is any regular maintenance that your owner’s manual may suggest. Again, this differs, depending on your make, model, and driving habits. In general, it’s a good idea to check your filters, belts, fluids, and hoses at least yearly. Additionally, you may consider getting a tire rotation or alignment to extend the life of your tires and suspension. Not only does regular upkeep extend the life of your vehicle, it can prevent your car from becoming a gas guzzler.
Regular Maintenance and Replacement
What if it is “broke”, though? Barring any urgent fixes that are critical to your safety—which we recommend taking care of right away—there are some things that require replacement over time. We’re talking about inevitable, wear-and-tear maintenance. From air filter and windshield wiper blade replacements, to new a battery and brakes, now is the perfect time to address any line items that have been nagging at you over time.
Although costly, new tires are another investment that can greatly extend the quality of your ride. Your tires are the legs that support the rest of your vehicle. And if they’re heavily worn and in need of replacement, not only are you at a greater risk for an accident, you’re negatively impacting your gas mileage. Tires often cost an arm and a leg, but they’re a smart investment that will pay off over time.
Updating Your Policy
Although indirectly related to the upkeep of your vehicle, car insurance is unequivocally an essential component of a safe driving experience. If you currently are underinsured—or, even worse, uninsured—tax season is a perfect time to improve your coverage.
As we’ve mentioned before, minimum coverage generally doesn’t provide the perceived cost benefits that many imagine. In fact, it often ends up costing you more over time. Let’s say you’re an underinsured driver who’s stuck in a situation with an uninsured driver. Guess who’s responsible for the damage? You are. Guess who has to fork over money for medical bills (which can add up quickly) in the untimely event of an accident? You guessed it. Finally, drivers without collision covers must often pay (expensive) repair bills out of their own pockets.
As you can assume, minimum coverage is often not worth the financial burden you put on yourself. While we understand that you don’t want to break the bank with your premiums, it’s important to consider the full picture when shopping around for car insurance. And plus, a little extra cash from your tax return can certainly help soften the blow.
Interested in learning more? When you insure with Elephant, you’re an immediate member of the herd—during tax season and throughout the year. For more information on improving your current coverage, reach out today.