Monday, May 04, 2009

10 Ways to Help Your Local Economy with Your Tax Refund

Now that tax season is over, American taxpayers across the country are wondering what to do with their refund checks. In a struggling economy, the best place to start is at home. By making purchases locally you can support your neighbors, friends, and community. It is a common misconception that you have to spend major bucks in order to support your local economy. However, by just making a few small adjustments, you may be able to make a large impact by doing very little. To help my readers discover new ways to support their communities, I have put together the following 10 ways to help your local economy with your tax refund.

1. Buy Local Produce

When you purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables, you are not only supporting local farmers, but you are also helping reduce the amount of carbon emissions caused by food delivery trucks. Local produce will usually cost you about as much as food bought from a major grocery store. Sometimes, depending upon the season and region, it can get pricier. As such, you could set aside a portion of your tax refund to make up the difference in future shopping trips.

2. Bank Locally

If you decide to save your tax refund instead of spending it then you can still help your local economy by depositing the funds into a locally owned bank. Doing so not only supports your local economy, but small banks or credit unions often have great interest rates and more personal service.

3. Hire a Local Contractor

Making improvements to your home or property is a great way to spend your tax refund. By hiring a local contractor or landscaper to do the work, it will help your local economy. Plus, many contractors are struggling to get work due to the housing crisis so you might be able to get a great deal on supplies and/or labor.

4. Stock Up on Cash

If may be more convenient for you to use a credit or ATM debt card. However, when you use them to pay for products at a local business, you are forcing the owner to pay a fee for having the transaction processed. If you can cash your tax refund check and use the money to make your local purchases, then you can help local business owners save money.

5. Take a Class at a Local Community College

By spending your tax refund on tuition and supplies to take a class at a local community college you can support your local education system while bettering yourself at the same time. Plus, the IRS also offers credits and deductions to qualified students. For more information, check out Top 10 Tax Tips for College Students on the Tax Help Blog.

6. Buy a Reusable Cup

If you stop and get coffee every morning before work, you would waste approximately 260 paper cups per year. Not only are you killing trees, you are killing your local coffee brewer who has to pay for those cups in the first place. By purchasing a high quality reusable coffee cup you can save the business owner from having to buy an extra box of cups each year.

7. Visit a Local Amusement Park

If you are looking to spend a fun day with the family, then you should consider visiting a local theme park. Companies like Six Flags, and other amusement parks, are on the verge of closing due to the poor economy. This could leave thousands of teenagers and younger workers unemployed. If you do have a theme park nearby, then taking your family to it for the day could make for a fun way to support the local economy.

8. Support Local Non Profits

There are plenty of non-profit organizations in every town that you could support with your tax refund check. This could be done either by donating cash or supplies. If there are not any local charities that you support, then you could always donate supplies to a local sports team or school.

9. Drink Local Beer

If you enjoy a cold beer every now and then, and are not afraid to try new things, then you might want to try beer from a local brewery. You may find you like it even more than the mass-produced stuff you normally get. Moreover, there is the added bonus of supporting your community with the purchase.

10. Network Nearby

If you own or run a business or charity in your area, consider joining your local chamber of commerce. One huge benefit of joining a chamber of commerce is it allows you to network and socialize with other business owners in your town, and possibly even exchange clients or services with them. Membership fees are usually very reasonable, and depending on the amount of your tax refund you might even have some extra cash left over.

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