If you’re one of the 77% of working Australians who will receive a tax refund this year, you’re probably starting to plan what you’ll do with a little extra cash. What might not be on your list yet is using it to make an investment in your most important asset – yourself.

Although the immediate reaction to receiving your tax back may be to splurge or save it, here are a few good ways to put those dollars towards building your own worth and getting great returns.

 

Save, splurge or invest - what's your plan?

1. Invest in your big, bright idea

Have you been mulling over a brilliant idea for an app, a fashion line, or maybe a micro-brewery? Your tax return could help you turn your small business dreams into reality.

Did you know there are experts on hand to help guide you, who won’t charge a cent? Start-up hub, the VU Hanger helps not only students and staff, but anyone in the local community looking for start-up mentoring, or advice on improving an existing business.

Use your tax return to launch your big idea.

2. Advance your career

Let’s face it – returning to studies is something we put off because it takes time and effort, and a short-term financial cost. It is also a fact that increasing your qualifications through postgraduate study is one of the smartest ways you can boost your earning power.

Jason Cunningham, renowned financial expert, VU alumnus and ‘money man’ from Network Ten’s The Living Room, says that investing in yourself through studies is key to your career success.

“It makes a lot of sense to spend money on further educating yourself to learn new skills, which in turn will lead to opportunities to further your career and enable you to earn more income,” he says.

Using your tax return towards your fees will give you a real advantage. The average tax refund in Australia is $2300, so with most postgraduate study units costing around $1500, a Graduate Certificate, for example, could be a quarter-paid off before you even start, with change to pay for text books.

And if you’re fortunate enough to choose a course with a Government Supported Place and have your fees funded, why not reward your studious-self with the MacBook you’ve been eyeing off and waiting for a good excuse to buy?

So follow your passion and climb the career ladder with postgrad studies – you can even start mid year and put your tax dollars to work immediately. You will also be amazed at how quickly you'll use your new knowledge to get ahead in your current job while you learn.

3. Enrich your mind and body

Finance expert Dr Ranjith Ihalanayake says there are several ways to invest in yourself that provide both professional and personal benefits:

“Nurturing your interests and what you enjoy improves your wellbeing long term much more than a new car or the latest iPhone could.”

Now is the perfect time to unleash your creative side. If there’s a language or an art you’ve yearned to learn, a cuisine, or a culture – even the finer side of wine-tasting – give it a go now. Investing in your creativity is proven to make you more fulfilled and happy, and a better friend, partner or parent – with the added bonus of building new friendships and professional networks.

During winter, your body can feel like less of a temple and more of a tip. Pay up-front on that annual gym membership; those meditation or Zumba classes – your bank account will thank you monthly and so will your physical and mental health.

Even science agrees that spending on your own personal growth and development – rather than objects – makes you happier.

Invest in your personal growth with something creative and rewarding.

What’s next?

It’s time to take the first step towards your best version of you. To speak to a career and course adviser, you can live chat online 9am-6pm, or book a phone or face-to-face consultation.

Stats in this article from ATO taxation statistics 2015-16.

Writer: Jessica Jury