Is your recently obtained tax return burning a hole in your pocket?
Getting a check from the IRS can make us a bit giddy, and we love brainstorming about how we could spend it. A home improvement or home organization project can be a great investment that improves the value of your home while also increasing your enjoyment of it.
The average tax return this year is $3,120, according to the IRS, based on refunds sent out as of the end of February. Average tax refunds vary by state, according to data compiled by Business Insider, from an average refund of $2,254 in Vermont to a high of $3,126 in Texas.
Here are a few ideas for using your tax refund dollars on a home improvement or home organization project:
1. Update your kitchen.
Mother and lifestyle blogger Gina Kirk from Massachusetts renovated her kitchen using the family’s tax refund. Her current obsession with the popular HGTV show “Fixer Upper” inspired her to take action, she says. The family hired professionals to refinish their oak cabinets, painting the top shelving white and the bottom gray, but they did the rest themselves: bead board, a subway tile backsplash, a pendant light over the sink and new wall paint. The cabinet refinish cost $1,800 and the DIY projects cost about $400 for a total project cost of $2,200. Cabinet refinishing will vary depending on the size your kitchen.
2. Give your ceiling a facelift.
Most of us routinely ignore our ceilings unless there is something about them that bugs us such as the oh-so-out-of-date popcorn ceiling. “Hire a professional to scrape them smooth,” suggests J.B. Sassano, president of Mr. Handyman, a residential repair franchise. Homeowners redoing their ceilings can also improve a ceiling’s appeal with crown molding or box beams for a fresh look, he says.
3. Install a new front door.
A beautiful front door adds immediate curb appeal. A steel or fiberglass door will set you back $1,500 to $2,500, and expect to pay several hundred dollars for the installation, which will vary depending on the door type and the condition of your door frame.
4. Install garage cabinets.
“People need additional storage space in the garage, and having built-in cabinets can eliminate a lot of clutter,” says John Bodrozic, co-founder of homezada.com, an online platform for homeowners to track their home improvement projects, including the budget, research, receipts, warranties and before-and-after photos.
5. Add landscape lighting.
Installation of landscape lighting in the front and back of a home adds security by keeping the home well lighted at night and it also creates a great look for entertaining, Bodrozic says.
6. Stage your home.
If you plan to sell your home this spring or summer, use your return to stage your home, suggests Karen Gray Plaisted of Design Solutions KGP in Warwick, NY.
“Home Staging is also considered part of marketing the home so it is tax deductible too,” she says. Real estate agents say research shows that staged homes typically sell for a higher price than non-staged homes.
7. Hire a professional organizer.
A 5-foot by 5-foot closet likely would cost less than half the average tax refund to professionally organize, says Amy Trager, a certified professional organizer who serves the Chicago metro area. “Overhauling a closet or storage area can make a world of difference,” she says. “It can become easier to access what you own, see what you have and enjoy the space.”
Cris Sgrott-Wheedleton, a professional organizer based in Tysons Corner, VA, said a $3,000 tax refund would likely cover the cost for a professional garage organization in most parts of the country.
8. Paint your home’s interior.
Painting is relatively inexpensive and can improve the look of your home. If you want to hire a professional, you can get a lot painted for the average-sized tax refund. If you decide to do it yourself, you may be able to paint the whole interior and still have money left over for another project.
9. Change window coverings.
Get rid of old metal mini-blinds and their dangerous cords and go with a cordless option. Then add interest with new panel drapery and new drapery rods. Install your new rods several inches above the top of your windows for a more dramatic look that will elongate the window opening.
10. Update the bathrooms.
You can make significant changes in one or more bathrooms for $3,000 or less. Options could include a combination of several of these items, although the refund likely wouldn’t cover everything listed here unless your bathroom is very small: new stone countertops, new sinks, new faucets, updated lighting, a new shower or bathtub door, refinished cabinets, new tile on the floor and new paint.