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Employees Get Ready To Spend Their Tax Refunds

It's almost April 15. Are you done with your taxes?

If you're getting a refund (lucky you...), you'll get the fun of deciding what to do with it. Should you put it into savings? Pay off some bills? Do something fun? Revamp your wardrobe? Spend it on the kids? Or some combination of the above?

CareerBuilder surveyed 3,900 employees to find out what they'll do with their tax refunds this year. Nearly half (46%) of the employees surveyed said they plan to pay off bills, while more than one-third (36%) said they'll put it into savings.

These numbers are an improvement over last year, when more than half (56%) planned to pay off bills and slightly more than one-third (34%) planned to save their tax refunds for a rainy day. CareerBuilder concludes that the trend toward less bill paying and more saving indicates a more stable economic picture.

Still, six-in-ten workers are living paycheck to paycheck. That means they're in trouble if something bad (read: expensive) suddenly happens. There's never a good time for the car to break down, for a bone to break, or for an employer to break the news that an employee is losing his or her job, is there? Saving money is a good thing in the long term, but a rise in the savings rate could also indicate a higher level of employee fear.

But let's not get morose, because employees haven't had this much dosh since last April! So how are they planning to spend their refund dollars this year? Home improvements, a vacation, paying back money owed to friends and relatives, investing, and a new car top the list. They'll also use their refunds to pay for a wedding, donate to charity, go to the doctor, make a few mortgage payments, buy a new computer, and pay for college.

These are all great ideas, except for the wedding expenditures. You think "we'll just have a small wedding" but the wedding industrial complex will demand that you go big or go home. Your mother will say you need to invite cousin so-and-so whom you haven't seen since you wore braces, and before you know it you're planning a wedding for 250 people. Then everyone's upset, and you're asking Carolyn Hax for advice.

Don't listen to TLC and The Wedding Channel, kids. It's just one day, princessing is for four-year-olds, and your ass is already drowning in student loan debt. Your parents, meanwhile, should be more worried about saving for retirement than place settings and seating charts. You're not Wills and Kate; you're navigating the worst recession since the 1930s. The cost of living is high. It's okay to be practical. Talk to your grandparents, or great-grandparents. I'll get off my soapbox now. Randy wouldn't like me.


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