by Maurie Backman | March 28, 2020
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It pays to take advantage of windfalls.
If you're like most people with a job, you rely on your paycheck to cover your bills. Maybe that paycheck arrives every week, or biweekly. Or maybe it comes in once a month. But chances are, your paycheck from work isn't the only income you're privy to.
You probably come into extra money on occasion throughout the year, and if that's the case, it pays to make the most of it. Here are a few sources of added cash you should really capitalize on.
Most people who file a tax return wind up getting money back from the IRS. Last year, the average tax refund totaled $2,781, which is certainly not a small amount of money. (To be clear, that was money received in 2019, but applicable to 2018 tax returns.) If you get a similar lump sum from the IRS this year, you can use that money to address your most pressing financial goals.
Maybe you have a doting grandmother who likes to write you a large check for your birthday, or maybe your parents hand you a wad of cash during the holidays. Though that money may be intended to serve as a gift, the reality is that you may want to think twice before spending it on apparel, electronics, or other such luxuries.
Workplace bonuses are not guaranteed. In some cases, they're based on performance. In other situations, they're based on how profitable your employer is. Either way, don't rush to spend that cash on leisure or a vacation -- you never know if you'll have a repeat the following year.
If you have dividend stocks in an investment account, you may be privy to quarterly payments that can serve as a nice income boost. That offers you a prime opportunity to boost your savings or reinvest those dividends for added investment growth.
Clearly, it pays to use your extra sources of income wisely. But what does that mean? If your savings account balance leaves much to be desired, your first priority should be to build an emergency fund -- one with enough money to cover at least three months of essential living expenses. Once you have that cushion in place, you can use your extra cash to:
No matter what you do with that extra money, recognize that when you get a windfall, you have a real opportunity to change your financial picture for the better. And while blowing that cash may be instantly gratifying, in the long run, you'll be thankful for having gone the more responsible route.
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