7 Unconventional Ways Students Can Spend their Tax Refunds

Now that Uncle Sam has deposited that tax refund into your bank account, you’re probably thinking of all the ways you can spend your newfound fortune. Yes, you could get ahead on your student loan debt, maybe pay off some overdue bills or even take a trip to Vegas. But before you decide where you want to invest your dollars, take a look at seven unconventional ways students can use their hard-earned tax refund.

Class and instructor doing stretching pilate exercises in fitnes

1.) Take Care of Your Body

You’re stuck with your body for the rest of your life, so why not take care of it? Take a fitness class three days a week or even get yourself a personal trainer. Consider purchasing a bike to get yourself to and from school and work. Instead of eating out, try that healthy diet you’ve been reading about but didn’t think you could afford. Gluten-free, low-carb, juicing, paleo? Why not!

2.) Get Certified

Boost your resume with a certification. This shows your dedicated and knowledgeable to your certified skill. Consider the Adobe® Certified Associate (ACA) certification which validates your proficiency with Adobe’s video, graphic, web, illustration or design software. If you’re interest is in IT, expand your career opportunities as a Microsoft® Certified Professional (MCP). For the health and wellness field get your First Aid, CPR and AED Certifications. A Language Certification is also a fail-proof way to impress your future employer.

Rear view of young man sitting on floor in front of washing mach

3.) Washer and Dryer

Everyone has to do laundry. But aren’t you sick of going to the laundromat or using a shared laundry room only to find your favorite shirt and unmentionables missing? Set yourself free from using quarters, lost clothing and annoying trips to the laundromat and invest in your own washer and dryer. Plus, washing machines have an average 14-year lifespan. 

Woman hand with credit, discount cards isolated on white backgro
4.) Gift Cards

It doesn’t have to be Christmas or your birthday to get a gift card. In fact, make every day feel special by using gift cards instead of a credit card. Buy a $100 gift card to your favorite grocery store to help you budget and limit your spending. Maybe set a $50 limit on the essentials at stores like Target, Walmart or Walgreens. Treat yourself to a $30 Starbucks gift card for your coffee habits. Just remember to treat gift cards like cash and know that at some point you’ll hit the bottom line.


Young attractive man in Paris

5.) Get a Passport

Because one day, you might want to explore the world outside your bubble. Passports are known as the “gateway to the world,” and although that sounds pretentious, it’s legally your ticket to cross the border (along with an actual plane ticket, of course). Consider studying abroad, teaching abroad or just experiencing something new. Return a different person with a new outlook on life. You’re not only a part of your hometown community, but also the global community. What sort of impact can you make with a passport?

6.) Join a Professional Organization

Whether you’re in college, fresh out of school or well-grounded in your career, a professional organization is always a good idea. There’s an organization for just about every interest and chosen field. Some popular groups include Business Network International, Veterinary Medical Association or the Society of Professional Journalists. These groups help you network with the movers and shakers in your field and develop professional skills through workshops and mentoring. It’s also a great way to meet future employers, other professionals and even friends. Plus, listing an association on your resume lets future employers know you are dedicated to your profession. As an added bonus, students typically get a discounted annual fee.

7.) Learn In-Demand “Hard” Skills

Today, most job descriptions come with expectations of possessing hard skills. No, these aren’t typical skills like “being able to handle a workplace conflict” or “ability to work with others.” Hard skills are ones that are needed to perform your future job. While you’re still a student, invest in yourself and boost your resume by adding that in-demand skill through workshops, courses and software. If you’re in business and marketing, get ahead of the game with proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite, Salesforce, Adobe Creative Suite, Google Apps and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). If you’re in graphic design, get skilled in modern calligraphy, photography and Adobe® Illustrator. There are online courses at Skillshare.com with a membership fee.