While driving home from work the other day, I was listening to a call-in show on NPR. A woman called to find out the best way for her family to save money for their child’s college fund. It made me think about how expensive our little bundles of joy can be. The good news – kids don’t always separate you from your money – sometimes they actually help you keep some! Here are a few ways your kids will help fatten your wallet come tax time.
Every now and then, we all need to blow off some steam. But when tax season hits… man, that’s a stressful time. Between rushing to get taxes done, filling out tax forms correctly, making sure the papers don’t get crinkled, and tracking down a stamp, there’s just so much to do! I’m breaking a sweat just thinking about all those things, namely, making sure papers don’t get crinkled. Since stress is pretty much inevitable (and upon us right now since tax season’s just coming to a close), let’s run through a list of cheap and simple things you can do to get some relief!
- Write it down – Sometimes things creep up in my mind and I simply can’t stop thinking of how they’ll affect me. Happen to you? Grab a pen and paper (or your favorite journal) and get your thoughts down. Maybe it’ll help to make a list, a pro/con chart, or even a long-winded poem that borders on being existentialist. Don’t forget my personal favorite: the interpretive tornado-like scribble. Stress relieving, indeed.
- Play with a pet – This might make the cat lady red flag go up, but there’s something that instantly calms me down when I get home and my little Mischa is there to greet me with a mew. Crazy? Maybe. But studies show that spending time with a little creature can raise your levels of serotonin and dopamine in your brain (A.K.A. the feel-good chemicals). Start petting your pal or play a game of fetch, and you’ll wonder why you were even stressed in the first place.
- Strike a yoga pose – There’s something about yoga that gets me incredibly chilled out and into zen-mode, especially when I get going with a vinyasa. Have no clue what I mean? Yoga’s a great practice that unwinds you, builds strength, and boosts tranquility. For beginners, try a smooth-flowing sun salutation. If zoning out and staying in the same place sounds better, try a few poses like the downward dog, cat-cow, or the warrior series.
- Plan out what you’ll do with your return – Maybe you already know, but I haven’t thought about it yet. Since buying a nice speedboat won’t be feasible with my return amount, I need to consider other options. Save? Spend? Invest? Figure out what you’ll do so you can avoid blowing it on a whim, since that’s what really causes the stress.
- Grab your favorite treat – Last Tuesday was a pretty rough day for me. But before I let it spiral into the depths of hell, I stopped by Starbucks to get a venti China green tips with steamed soymilk. It’s my all-time favorite sip, and since it’s green tea, it makes me super relaxed. If it’s a Whopper from Burger King, have at it. Maybe a freshly picked apple. Whatever it is, it’ll help you chill and get a break from what’s bugging you!
- Get outside – Fresh air is the best! There’s something I love about a golf course at dawn: the smell of fresh cut greens, a coat of dew that reveals footprints when trekking down the fairway, and the mystical fog that lingers until the sun burns it off. I’m relaxed just thinking about it, let alone being there. Hit a park, bike trail, swimming pool, or just sit outside to catch some rays. So soothing!
- Rationalize – I was in a quandary the other day and my brain was pretty much starting to catch on fire because of my thoughts. Luckily, I happened to be with my mom who listened to me talk out the range of scenarios that could occur. She gave her feedback and made me realize I was being pretty irrational and stressing over something very miniscule. Give it a try with someone you trust!
- Get sporty – I love golfing. Can’t say it always relaxes me since I’ll hit a shot I’m unhappy with from time to time, but for the most part, it’s an activity that helps me clear my head. For you, maybe it’s shooting some hoops. Perhaps a sweat-inducing Rollerblade session. Nothing like a little exercise to get those endorphins pumping.
- Turn off the TV – Just try it. I’ll agree it’s hard to voluntarily forgo an episode of Modern Family or miss the 6:00 p.m. news, but there’s something soothing and tranquil about unplugging yourself from the tube once in a while. Plus, there’s always the trusty DVR if you simply can’t miss a show. Take a small break from the TV, and you’ll feel AWESOME.
Now that you’ve got a few options to release some post-tax season stress, resist the urge to bang your head against the wall – and get your chill on!
Have big plans for your tax return? Tell us!