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10 Ways to Earn Money With Your Tax Return

People all across America are opening their mailboxes with that unmistakable grin on their faces. Finally, it’s not just bills in that metal box. There’s a paycheck in there and it’s from Uncle Sam! They grab that holy grail of a parcel, hold it up in the air and shout, “This money is going straight to savings!”

….Errrr, maybe not.

More than likely, they’ve already found out how much they’re getting back, spent it 3 times over with their credit cards, and now they’ll spend this money foolishly on something else (you know, instead of actually paying for the dumb thing they bought when they heard they were getting the refund).

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10 Ways to Earn Money With Your Tax Return Dollars

But YOU are different. YOU’RE reading this blog because you want to be fiscally wise and are therefore thinking differently about this money. What if I told you we could earn money with your tax return dollars?

Make money with money? Ohhhh yeah, baby!

Now wipe that saliva off your lower lip and let’s start breeding those Benjamins!

Earn Money With Your Tax Return1) Pay Down Your Credit Cards

Let’s say you’ve got $3,000 in credit card debt (not bad considering the average balance-carrying household has owes $16,000) and your tax return just magically happens to be $3,000. Over the course of just one year, you could save $600 if you paid off the balance today! That’s a pretty good return on investment if you ask me!

2) Sell Your Under Water Car

Here’s the excuse I hear all the time, “Yeah, I probably never should have bought this car, but now I’m under water on it so I can’t possibly sell it.”

Now’s the time to ditch that excuse. Use your tax return, pay down your insane $25,000 car balance so that you no longer owe more than it’s worth, and sell it so you can buy a dependable $3,000 car with NO PAYMENTS.

Related: Top 10 Cars for Digging Your Way Out of Debt

3) Start a Small Business

You don’t need $100,000 to start a business these days. Heck, you don’t even need $5,000.

With $3,000 or less (typically much less), you could start your own:

  • Lawn mowing business
  • Car detailing business
  • Home cleaning business
  • House painting business
  • Driveway and deck power washing business

….and earn a thousand dollars or more each month! Tack those earnings onto your day job income and you could finally be in the driver’s seat financially!

Find out how to start these businesses and learn about 9 more in the article, “14 Cheap Business Ideas You Can Start Today“.

4) Start a Blog

My personal favorite! Starting a blog. I started this blog in 2010 and it’s helped me earn more than $100,000! Isn’t that just crazy?! I know it sounds like a pipe dream, but if I can do it (believe me, I was clueless when it came to blogging) then you can too!

All you need is $24 to get started through iPage. This step-by-step guide will help you:

  1. Come up with a fantastic domain name
  2. Sign up through iPage with no additional add-ons (the free guide will show you exactly what you need and nothing more)
  3. Set up your site to look professional in just 15 minutes

Heck, with your tax return, you could probably start 100 blogs! 🙂 Get started today!

5) Invest in a Roth IRA

Want to earn money with your tax return dollars? Then why not start a Roth IRA? Your return is in after-tax dollars, so an investment into a Roth IRA will grow and never be taxed again, even at withdrawal in your old age.

Let’s say you receive that $3,000 tax return and put it all into a Roth IRA. If you add nothing else to it and earn 10% each year, guess how much you’ll have 30 years from now? Believe it or not, it’ll be $50,000!

Ready to invest? Check out Wealthsimple. It’s cheap, simple, and they take care of most of the grunt work for you! I’ve had amazing success here, and I bet you will too!

6) Invest in Your Kids’ College Funds

Want to earn money with your tax return dollars? How about earning money for your children? If you’re out of debt and have an emergency fund set up, then it’s time to put some money away for your kids. It doesn’t have to cover their entire education, but what if you could save up and help them with half of their tuition? That would feel pretty good right?

The question you’re going to ask is, “With rising tuition costs and the unknown growth of their college fund, how the heck will I know how much to invest??”

Glad you asked. I made a calculator for that exact question a few months ago. 😉

Here’s the article: Free College Investment Calculator, It Costs More Than You Think

Just enter your:

  • child’s age,
  • the amount you already have saved,
  • and the current tuition costs.

That’s it! The calculator will take care of the rest!

7) Put It In The Bank and Earn 3% Interest

Some savings accounts earn less than 0.1%. Please don’t put your money here. You can do better with a credit union checking account. You might even be able to earn 3% interest on $15,000! That’s $450 a year of free money!

According to Bankrate, there are three banks that are paying 3% on $10,000 or more:

  • Consumer Credit Union
  • Great Lakes Credit Union
  • Lake Michigan Credit Union

All you have to do is set up a regular deposit there and use your debit card regularly. Check out the other top banks in the table below:

Find one of these banks, deposit your $3,000, and earn money with your tax return dollars! Now THAT’s pretty easy!

8.) Buy Cheap Items and Resell Them

I’ve done this quite a few times, especially when I was younger. While at garage sales and thrift stores, I would inevitably see items that were selling for far less than I knew other people would pay for them.

  • Entertainment centers,
  • stereo systems,
  • and exercise equipment to be specific…

So why not buy them, list them online, and make a quick $20-$50 here and there?

Just think of how much you could earn with a $3,000 tax return! By purchasing a few dozen garage sale items, you might even be able to double it!

Want to know what to look for at those thrift stores and garage sales? Check out this great article from What to Buy at Garage Sales

9) Invest in Real Estate

Obviously you’re not going to be able to purchase an entire house with your tax return, but you could always boost your real estate fund with it!

Real estate is one of my favorite investments for the following reasons:

  • You have more control of a rental house than you do a share of stock or mutual fund
  • Rentals can easily net 10% earnings each year (we’re netting $11k a year on a $90k investment)
  • It’s an appreciating asset, but you can actually depreciate it on your taxes
  • When we sell the property, we’ll only owe capital gains tax and not earned income tax

Liz and I purchase our real estate with cash. It takes quite a lot of time to save up for the first place, but then the 2nd property is purchased faster than the first, and the 3rd faster than the 2nd!

Want to see how quickly you could rack up rental properties with cash? Check out this Free Rental Investment Calculator!

10) Invest in Your Health Savings Account (HSA)

I firmly believe that everyone should max out their HSA accounts, especially if you’re young. Singles can contribute up to $3,400 and couples can contribute $6,750. Want to earn money on your tax return dollars? Then stash it in your HSA account.

Here’s why I’m such a big fan:

  1. You’ll never pay tax on this money…EVER
  2. It stays in your account forever (unlike that dumb FSA)
  3. Many companies contribute money for you
  4. You can invest the money while it’s in your HSA (and never pay taxes, not even on the earnings!!)
  5. At the age of 65, you can use the money for anything, even if it’s not health related

Want more info? Check out the full write-up here: 5 Monster Benefits of an HSA

Will You Earn Money With Your Tax Return?

So what’s it going to be? Are you going to squander your tax return like the rest of America? Or will you actually be wise with it and pay off debt, save for a rainy day, or invest for your future? If you read up to this point, I’m just guessing that you’re going to do awesome things with your money. So kudos to you! I can’t wait to hear what you’ll do with your tax return dollars!

What will it be for you? How will you earn money with your tax return dollars?

Investing Make Money Money


My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. I’m not sure I’m going to get a tax return this year. Since I have roommates paying me rent, I’m fairly certain I may have to pay in due to having 16k of income which I haven’t paid taxes on. Best case scenario is depreciation and interest expense offsets a majority of it 🙂

    Love the list, keep up the quality content!

    • You know what? It’s probably best if you don’t get a tax refund. That means you’re not letting the government use your money for free the entire year! But, since a large majority of the population gets a sizable return, this article was tailored to them.

      How’s your site doing Erik? Anything I can help out with?

      • Looks like I’m going to have a federal refund of about $200 🙂 ha!

        My site is doing fine for one month; I’m trying to stay consistent with posting. What things with social media do you do that have been beneficial? Also, layout, what’s your opinion of how things are laid out?

        • Hi Erik. Your site is looking great! Good job! To be honest with you, I like your layout better than mine. Over the next few months, I’ll likely move to a right sidebar only layout. My double sidebar action is just too much – feels like there’s too many ads around the content in my opinion. Stick with the right sidebar, I like it.

          The best social media types are Facebook and Twitter, hands down. Some have done well with Pinterest, but I’m still working on building it up – not seeing the benefits yet.

          I’ve got a post going live on Sunday that I’m working on now. You’re going to want to read it. Stay tuned!

  2. We usually try not to have a refund but in spite of our best planning, this year I think we’ll end up with a refund of a couple of thousand. Which will immediately be returned to the IRS in the form of estimated payments. We don’t leave it on deposit with the IRS because – having worked for the for 22+ years – we don’t trust them not to apply it to the wrong account, or have some error with it that we wouldn’t discover until next year. Getting the refund then allows us to write a check to them for ES payments for which we have a record of payment.

    • Good for you Kathy! You really shouldn’t have a refund, so way to be ahead of 90% of the population! Ha, and good move not trusting the government agencies to do their job well. 😉

  3. These are all great options that you mentioned! If you get back money from Uncle Sam, I highly suggest pay off your debt first or put it away to savings! Investing is another great option too!

    • Most of America will spend their tax return on something foolish. I say start the year out with something smart!! Thanks for the comment, Centsai!

  4. I tried adjusting my W4 so I could have more money in my check so that was good (From 0 to 2) . I know my refund will be smaller than it had been but I still have a mortgage so I mostly likely will get something bag.

    I plan to help my Mom with a big bill she just got on getting the car repaired and then dumping the rest on Principle payment for my mortgage.

    Is there a formula on how to adjust your W4 perfectly so you are not allowing the government you use your money interest free?

    • Hi Nicole. Great question. As far as I know there’s really no magic formula because everyone’s credits and deductions are different – so a formula is nearly impossible. From what I’ve read over the years, if you are single and have one job, claiming 2 allowances will get you the closest to owing nothing and receiving nothing, but you might have to pay something in so be ready for that.

      • Thanks so much Derek. I have my Emergency Fund so I am so thankful I have been putting money in there to help me in times like this.

        I feel so happy that you share information for people like me who did not grow up with this information in the their home. I always felt strange about why people got so excited about getting their tax refunds and then blowing it on clothing or silly things. I just could not put on finger on why I felt so oddly about it. Then I learned about Emergency Funds and then realized.. omg. This is what everyone should do. SAVE! Save for a rainy day like our Grandparents had to do. Good grief.

        • You got it! It’s pretty rare these days, but that emergency fund is key to living life without fear and for catching us while we’re down!

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