Tag Archives: investing


5 Ways to Use Your Tax Refund Wisely

Tax season gets a bum rap.

While tax day is often associated with having to pay the government, most people actually will receive a check compensating for money they’ve overpaid in taxes throughout the previous year. In 2015, the average refund was $2,893.

Adults usually direct this tax refund toward boring stuff like bills, but teens are free to spend this lump sum of money as they please, right? This is a free country, so technically, yes; but we suggest applying a bit of wisdom when it comes to your refund check.

But before you can start planning what you’ll do with your sweet, sweet cash, you should first know if filing a tax return is even necessary. Once you’ve got that straightened out, follow these five suggestions on how to use your tax refund wisely:

  1. Save for college

Nearly 70 percent of students are taking out loans to pay for college, and on average those loans amount to $33,000 per student. When you account for the interest, many people continue paying off student loans well into their thirties. By starting your own savings now, you could avoid or diminish the realities of this inconvenient, postgraduate truth. 

  1. Pay down debt

The average U.S. household carries $15,762 in credit card debt. While you shouldn’t have nearly that much as a teen, you’d be surprised how quickly it can pile up. If you have a credit card with even a small amount of debt, using your refund check to pay it off is a smart move. Not only does it help you prevent the dreaded black hole of debt, it also improves your credit score — win-win.

  1. Start an emergency fund

The definition of an emergency is a serious, unexpected situation, which is why you ought to plan for one ahead of time. If you don’t have money saved, the effects of a serious emergency (e.g., a medical emergency) can be compounded. Only 51 percent of Americans have enough cash in their emergency accounts to clear themselves of credit card debt. Be like the other 49 percent.

  1. Buy something useful

This may come as a shock, but when you move out of your parents’ house you lose the use of all their things. From food to paper towels, these are things you’ll need to budget for as an adult. Even more pressing is the fact that items you need like cars and computers tend to need repairs and you’ll have to cover the costs. Use your refund check now to upgrade any item you simply will be lost without.

  1. Invest

What’s the only thing better than having money? Making more money with it! Investing is no doubt complicated, but there are very safe ways to invest money. Not only will it boost your bank account, it will also prevent you from spending it frivolously.

For more info on jumpstarting a better tomorrow with your refund check, read this post from H&R Block Talk.

Are Your Money Habits Thrifty or Wasteful? [VIDEO]

Just because you know the foundations of responsible money management doesn’t necessarily mean you adhere to them. H&R Block Dollars & Sense hit the streets to find out what people are spending their money on and what money lessons they’ve learned over the years. Are people ignoring everything they’ve learned about managing money? Watch the video to find out.



What Does Financial Literacy Mean To You?

Whether you’re 14 or 44, being financially literate is crucial at any age. We asked a group of parents and teens what being financially literate means to them and how they use this knowledge in their everyday lives!

I’ve heard of financial literacy, but I don’t know what it is. I don’t personally know much about finances, but I’d like to learn how to spend money wisely so I’m prepared for when I’m adult. — Brenna K., 14

I want to be educated on how to manage my money because I don’t think I’m quite there yet. I sometimes talk to my parents about money, but not enough. — Juliana C., 14

I had one personal finance class in high school, but it was optional. Being financially literate to me means that I’m able to understand my bills and exactly what I’m looking at when I get those bills. — Amanda O., 20

Being financially literate definitely means staying on top of my bills and making sure I have enough money to cover those, but also that I have enough money to go out and have a good time. — Ryan S., 20 

Overall, being financially literate helps you not incur credit card debt, knowing where to invest and save, and creating a budget. I talk to my kids about money, and they each have a credit card so they’re able to budget what they want to spend, and then pay it off at the end of the month to create credit. — Leslie G., 43 

I think budgeting is definitely the most important part of being financially literate. I like to save rather than spend my money. — Kaileigh E., 18 

It’s so important to be financially literate, and I personally need to get better at it. It’s important to make sure you know what you’re spending and if you’re spending it well. — Courtney E., 20

I need to make sure I keep my bank account in check and my checkbook balanced. My dad helps me out a lot and helps me understand my finances. — Emily D., 19 

My parents help me out a lot with my finances, but being financial literate means everything to me because you have to save your money. Being a student is hard and you have to pay for school and all that, but I think my parents help me out a lot. — Colleen O., 19

I’m not financially literate. I don’t take any personal finance classes, but I wish I did because I’d learn to spend my money better. Right now I spend it on crazy stuff that I probably shouldn’t, like toys. — Jacob F., 14 

I like to be aware of how I’m spending and saving my money. I check my bank account frequently and have certain apps that help me make sure I budget wisely. In the future, I want to make sure that I’m putting away 10 percent of my paycheck and saving for an emergency fund. — Charlotte H., 22 

In order to make sure I’ve got a grip on my finances, I make sure I save enough. That’s the point of financial literacy. — Johanna H., 31

I don’t think teens are very financially literate. There often isn’t any education in high school so we as teens aren’t as smart with our money as we should be. — Eric H., 12 

I think I’ve talked about it with my parents, but not at school. I’ve talked about money and how you should spend it in a smart way. — Katharina F., 16

What does being financially literate mean to YOU? How do you make sure you’re keeping track of your money? Let us know in the comments below.


How The H&R Block Budget Challenge Is Helping Teachers Teach Financial Literacy—Straight From Teachers

Educators all over the country are using the H&R Block Budget Challenge to teach students important personal finance concepts. From how to manage a budget and properly saving for a 401k, students are learning how to be smart money managers through this simulation without the real life consequences. Don’t believe us? Hear it straight from teachers who have participated.*

“Budget Challenge is an excellent “formative” assessment tool that accurately assesses the students ability to manage their finances over a longer period of time.   It gets to the heart of their personal habits and personality traits when it comes to managing an account. I also use their scores as a jumping point in discussing credit scores and credit worthiness.” 

“It was well designed and allowed me to expose my student to Personal Finance concepts in a realistic, interactive and fun manner.”

“I learned the issues that seemed to give students the most problems. This allowed me to go more in depth on those topics in order to enhance student knowledge.”

“Both of our school principals have spent time in my classroom during the simulation. They enjoyed seeing the students’ work and how they progress. They also enjoyed how competitive they were with who was in first place in our room.” 

“School administrators have pushed for a required PF (personal finance) class at our school. They were excited about the BC (Budget Challenge) simulation when I brought it to their attention.” 

Get your class involved in the H&R Block Budget Challenge. Find out more info about how to enroll here.

*All responses were anonymously gathered from the H&R Block Budget Challenge Fall 2015 Survey

How Important is Money to Teens? [INFOGRAPHIC]

How important is saving, spending and investing to teens? Here’s what we found out.HRBDS January-0204-02-01

Thanks to the Budget Challenge, these teens gained confidence in their financial literacy skills and ability to save. Maybe they can keep their smartphones after all!

Learning financial literacy is fun with the H&R Block Budget Challenge. To find out more about how your teenagers or students can learn real-world money management skills without the real-world consequences, encourage teachers to register here for the next H&R Block Budget Challenge simulation.