Today, for many people, is the most dreaded day of the year.
Federal taxes are due, and if you owe money, it’s one of the toughest checks to write. But roughly half of the people filing their taxes this year will get a refund. And in fiscal year 2016, the average individual income refund was $3,050, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
Yes, the smart thing to do with that money is to invest it—or at least shuffle it over to your 401(k). Maybe you use it to pay down debt. Barring that, it’s a good way to set up an emergency fund in case you suddenly find yourself out of a job. The truth of the matter, though, is that for a lot of people, that money will start burning a hole in their pocket, and they’ll want to give themselves a treat with their mini-windfall.
We won’t judge you if you’re one of those folks. (It’s your money after all.) But if you are looking to shop, what should you spend it on? We’ve got a few ideas.
Nintendo Switch: Nintendo’s newest console is showing all the signs of having real staying power (versus last generation’s Wii U). Launch title The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the company’s critically highest rated game of all time. An updated Mario Kart 8 (which was a Wii U release, but given the poor sales of that system, many fans haven’t yet played) releases April 28. And several other big games are coming later this year. The $299 console is certain to be one of the most in-demand items this holiday season, so now’s the time to grab one if you can.
LG Signature OLED TV W – 4K HDR Smart TV: Admittedly, this is a splurge. But if your refund was especially large this year, one way to celebrate that would be with the best TV on the market. The $8,000 price tag on this 65-inch set will scare most people off, but videophiles will be too enthralled with its astonishingly vivid colors and picture quality to care. Just as impressive is how thin they’ve managed to make the set (it’s smaller than the width of a pencil). It’s so thin, in fact, that it doesn’t require a standard wall mount and lies nearly flat with the wall. It also comes with a Dolby Atmos system, meaning the sounds will pop nearly as much as the pictures do.
Strongboard Balance: By April, New Year’s Resolutions to get back in shape have largely fallen by the wayside. Now’s a good time to pick those back up, however, as beach season approaches. Strongboard is a $269 balance board that uses multiple springs to help you improve core strength and tone. It’s suited for everyone from beginners to professional athletes and can be used on its own or in conjunction with other training tools. A basic exercise has you simply stand on the board with your knees slightly bent. As you shift and maintain balance, your muscles will receive one heck of a workout. It’s durable, doesn’t shift while in use, and has been widely praised by users.
PlayStation VR: Sony’s $400 entry in the virtual reality category is selling significantly better than the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, with nearly a million units in consumer’s hands so far. That’s in part because of the lower cost and in part because of the more extensive software library. If the lure of VR is gaming, PlayStation VR is the clear choice, with titles from Sony’s internal studios, Warner Brothers, EA, Capcom, and Ubisoft. And more developers are likely to announce titles at the E3 video game expo in June.
Fizzics Beer System: After gathering and adding up all of your receipts and dealing with the headaches that accompany the IRS’s Form 1040, you deserve a beer. The Fizzics beer system, which hovers in the $200 price range, claims to make any beer better—and we’ve yet to find a reason to argue. The system gives any can, bottle, or growler of beer the head, mouthfeel, aromatics, and body of one that came from a nitro tap. Better still, it doesn’t require CO2 canisters. Just attach your beer to the system, close the lid, and pull the tap handle. It’s a way to completely change your beer drinking experience for the better—even if it’s pretty good already.
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