As part of the American Rescue Plan, the government started sending out some much-needed relief for those with children. However, unlike the stimulus checks, these monthly payments that lasted from July-December 2021 weren’t money people wouldn’t already receive. Instead, they were advanced tax return payments.
So, what exactly does this mean for you? A lower tax return. With the payments ending in January, many people are worried about not having that extra boost to their finances as well as how to budget for a tax return that’s possibly significantly less than what they’ve received in previous years. Read on to learn how to survive without the child tax credits and move forward with your lower tax return.
Reconfigure Your Budget
A lot of people found the child tax credit payments kept them out of debt, and it can be terrifying to think what can happen when you’re not receiving those payments anymore. The first thing to do is reconfigure your budget. Has your family been making more frivolous purchases since receiving the payments? Are you a little looser with your money in general, such as buying name brands instead of generic? Take the time to see where you can trim the fat on your budget to save some extra money. Many people find they can save money in little ways throughout the day that quickly adds up.
Look at Social Programs
We understand that many people needed these payments to survive, and removing them is causing a severe dent in their finances and adding unparalleled stress to their lives. Luckily, those in need can qualify for an assortment of social welfare programs to give them a hand up. From local food banks to EBT, you and your children won’t need to go hungry until you receive your tax refund. Help doesn’t end at food either. Depending on your state, you may be able to receive reductions or assistance on your utility bills, help on rent or welfare payments. Now is the time to take full advantage of these programs and receive aid.
Increase Work Hours
Have you reduced your work hours to spend more time with your kids? Now is the time to look to returning to your previous work schedule. If you worry about daycare costs, consider trading off babysitting on days off with co-workers so you can both work more than you have over the past few months. If your job simply isn’t cutting it anymore, or if you can’t increase your work hours, look at applying to other jobs that will pay you the salary you deserve.
Prepare for a Smaller Refund or Paying It Back
As tax refunds are filed, many Americans will find they will receive a smaller refund or even need to pay back their payments. This can be devastating for families that rely upon a certain refund amount each year. Take a deep breath and look to file your taxes early so you know exactly how much you’ll receive as well as whether or not you’ll need to pay anything back. By preparing your finances, you’ll be able to budget smarter and know exactly what to expect.
Pay Off Debts
Your refund amount will depend on a variety of factors, but now is the perfect time to work towards paying off debts. Lower those credit card balances and catch up on past-due bills so they aren’t hanging over your head in 2022. Oftentimes, we’re able to catch up more than we may think. By lowering your debts, you’ll have more money going forward being you won’t be spending your hard-earned cash on interest or late payment fees.
Place Funds in a Savings Account
When you receive your tax refund, place it in an interest-bearing savings account, even if you think you’ll spend it quickly. This will allow your money to grow, even if it’s just a few extra dollars a month. Try to keep your money in your account as long as possible to earn as much interest as you can on your refund.
Invest (If You Can)
Don’t worry; we’re not telling you to go buy a ton of Tesla stock. However, investing your money can reap financial benefits for you and your family for years to come. With an assortment of investment apps now available, you’ll find you’re able to invest quickly and easily in companies ranging from tech conglomerates to small startups. Remember though that the stock market is not guaranteed to make you a return on your investment, so take the time to research which companies financial experts recommend and save some of your refund in a savings account for emergencies.
Hold Off on Shopping
Many people will go shopping the moment they get their refund, and retailers count on this. During the spring, most companies won’t have their best prices, counting on people to make impulse purchases with the excuse that they have their tax refund to help them out. Instead of spending your money on big purchases right now (like televisions, appliances, etc.), look to make bigger purchases in the summer months, when companies will be more likely to give you a better deal.
Space Out Your Refund
You’re receiving a tax refund? Great news! Now comes the time to save and space out your purchases. If you can, look to create your own child tax credit payment system by allocating yourself the same amount of money (or lower, if doable) so you can have a steady stream of income over the coming months. If you must make a big purchase or pay off a large debt, look to save your remaining money for as long as possible.
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Planning for a lower tax return and reduction in child tax credits can feel like an uphill battle; however, with proper planning, you can soften the financial blow. By looking for ways to prolong your money, like reconfiguring your budget, putting funds in a savings account, paying off debts, spacing out your refund money to last you for several months or taking out a small dollar installment loan, you can build a healthier financial system for you and your family.