April is so much fun! It rains A. LOT. There's Easter, which people celebrate with Peeps. Sometimes in Oregon it even freezes on Easter, which makes those egg hunts pretty sketchy. Kids don't care about the cold, though, if there are Peeps. Personally, I think Peeps are nasty. Some people I know blow up Peeps in the microwave for kicks. Google it! And then there's April 15. Tax day. That's a fun one. So April is great. Not summer, not winter ... just rainy. Sometimes you can avoid some of these unpleasant activities (like the Peeps), but you can't avoid paying your taxes. Usually.
Some people, however, get tax refunds. Receiving money puts a whole different slant on the month! Do you get a refund? Do you spend it? Is it burning a hole in your pocket right now?
Well just stop those thoughts of spending. Don't go to Costco and buy a new TV. Why not consider better use of that money for you and - what the hell - for the environment. Yes, for the environment. A new TV is not great for the planet, and it probably doesn't foster a healthy lifestyle anyway (I'm sitting on the couch writing this with the TV on, so I know of what I speak). How could you spend that money to help your family, yourself, your pocketbook, the environment, or all of the above? Sounds crazy, perhaps, but never fear. It's the Queen of Rationalization here, with some thoughts on cool ways to spend that refund.
Take a vacation
- Many people use their refund as vacation funding. Why not switch up the vacation idea, though? Book a December holiday trip for your family with that money. Tell your kids now that there will be no gifts and no tree; there will be a trip to (fill in the blank) instead. Skip the shopping, the paper, the plastic, and the insanity.
- Spend the money on a volunteer vacation. Take yourself or your family to build houses somewhere or to work with animals. Try something different. Expand your horizons. Voluntourism rocks!
Improve the house
- Buy a money-saving heat pump or solar panels. Enjoy your refund year round with lower utility costs.
- Pick up a couple yards of dirt, seeds, or plants and material for a composter. Start a garden. Grow some veggies. Get your hands dirty. Eat fresh produce right out of your yard!
- How energy efficient is your water heater? How about your windows? Is it time to upgrade? Spend now to save on energy forever more.
Improve your health
- Spend the money on a farm share. Now's the time to research the different farms and subscribe as boxes will start arriving in June. Commit to organic, local, and fresh veggies and produce this summer. And if you haven't been to a farmer's market in PDX, you're missing out. The farmer's market is the place to be.
- Buy a bike and start riding to work and/or the store.
- Purchase those cool hiking boots you have always wanted. Then, get out there and hike / see the world!
Admit it. These ideas all sound better than a new TV, right? Maybe April doesn't have to be such a hideous month. (You can skip the Peeps, too.)