The Game Changer: My 2011 Tax Return

February 22, 2012

Since moving, and going from putting $1,700 each month on debt to paying nearly $1,000 per month in rent, I have felt like a pretty crappy personal finance blogger. My current debt updates have been stagnant, as I’ve been trying to adjust to my new financial situation, and I’ve missed publishing exciting posts about reaching new increments, like paying off $10,000 of debt in 6 months.

In the back of mind, I knew what some of my financial goals were for this year, but I couldn’t set deadlines until I knew one thing: how much my tax return was going to be. On Monday afternoon, Mom let me know that my T4 had arrived in their mailbox. Being the organized (and anxious) person that I am, I was ready for this moment weeks ago. All of my other numbers were entered into my UFile account and the only thing missing was my T4 information.

When I got to the house, I ripped open the envelope, logged onto UFile, plugged in the numbers, triple-checked them and hit Results. I was so nervous that I literally closed my eyes. Is it going to be $2,000 like last year? No, maybe more like $1,700. Yea, $1,700 sounds about right. After a few seconds of panicking, I opened my eyes and read this:

tax refund

Did that make your jaw drop? Mine is still on the floor at my parents’ house. $2,756. That’s almost an entire month’s salary for me. And, when it gets deposited into my bank account (2-3 weeks from now), it’s going to make many of my goals that much more achievable.

After replenishing my Emergency Fund with the $475 I had to borrow from it last month, I’m putting the rest of this year’s return on my credit card debt. I’m prepared for commenters to tell me that I should be putting 100% of it back into savings or investments but, for where I’m at financially, that’s just not my best option. And to be blunt, I’d be a damn fool if I didn’t put it where I needed it most.

By the end of March, I will only have ~$2,000 in credit card debt. Suddenly, my goal of paying it all off by August 31st doesn’t seem so crazy…

  • mznatural February 22, 2012 at 5:11 am

    Celleeebration time come on!!! Ok I know I’m not cool- but this did make my jaw drop and I’m really happy for you! You know where best to apply this money so ‘meh’ to what other might say. I always say financial behaviour is more behavioural/emotional than logical (otherwise people wouldn’t be in debt) so put it where it works best for you! Have a great week!

  • Michelle February 22, 2012 at 5:23 am

    That’s awesome!

  • Daisy February 22, 2012 at 6:27 am

    CONGRATS! That is soo amazing! I can only hope I get any refund at all.

  • Bonnie February 22, 2012 at 6:44 am

    Congrats! I think you are absolutely making the right choice by putting it toward your debt.

  • Jordann February 22, 2012 at 6:59 am

    Congrats! I’m hoping to be in the same boat in a few weeks. If getting out of debt is the name of your game, this is absolutely the right choice.

    • Cait February 24, 2012 at 9:20 am

      Sooo maybe you’ll start your blog then and post about it!? ;)

  • Britt February 22, 2012 at 7:10 am

    Woohoo! How awesome! :)

  • Pamela February 22, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Awesome news! I think it’s a wise choice to put the money towards your credit card debt – feels good to beat down that debt!

  • Carrie - Careful Cents February 22, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Woo hoo! That’s awesome news and super exciting for any PF blogger for sure. It’s so nice to think you can actually pull off your goals in the time frame you want. Good luck!

  • Annie February 22, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Wow! That’s amazing! And the best place to put your refund is where YOU feel it needs to go, not anyone else. Congratulations! :)

  • afistfulodollars February 22, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Congratulations! I think it’s a great idea to pay down your debt while also replenishing your EF. Do you have any three paycheque months coming up? That might make your August goal completely attainable!

    • Cait February 22, 2012 at 8:48 am

      Both March and August are 3 paycheque months. :)

      • afistfulodollars February 22, 2012 at 9:04 am

        I get May and October, I think! Can’t wait!

  • lifeisfullofsunnydays February 22, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Now I feel inspired to do my return. Maybe I will get a nice fat return like you did.
    Put the money towards debt is a great place for it.

  • Newlyweds on a Budget February 22, 2012 at 9:34 am

    that’s amazing! SO happy for you! I seriously thought we were going to have to owe, so I’m super excited that we’re getting money back!

    • Cait February 24, 2012 at 9:18 am


  • Cassie February 22, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Congratulations! I still don’t have everything I need to do my taxes yet, but I’m anxiously awaiting it. That’s just a great bump up, you’ll totally be able to reach your goal :D

  • kidgas February 22, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Paying off credit card debt is a guaranteed return that is tax free. Why would anybody suggest that is not a good use of the money? Now blowing it on something would be a problem, but not debt repayment.

  • A February 22, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Congrats, C! I wish we got that much back! (We always owe to Oregon, but luckily we get some federal money back.)

    Once you replenish your e-fund, how much will you have in there? (I started ours at $1000 while we paid off our CC debt – so we would have a decent amount for any unexpected “emergencies.” We ended up not needing to use it at all, and haven’t yet, knock on wood.)

    • Cait February 24, 2012 at 9:19 am

      I’ll only have about $700 in there but that’s savings I’ve never had before, haha. Congrats on not using yours!

  • singletothepenny February 22, 2012 at 11:50 am


  • jefferson February 22, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    congrats to you..

    we were able to put a huge dent in our debt this year from our tax return as well

  • hithatsmybiket February 22, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    That is so great for you!!! Yay!!

    I’m hoping for $2400… if Apple ever sends me my freakin’ T4! gah!

  • deenadollars February 22, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    $2,000 left in CC debt is amazing; I cannot wait till I join you at those low numbers! So happy for you!

    • Cait February 24, 2012 at 9:20 am

      You’ll get there, D!

  • Kerry Pacey February 22, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    Perfect…Life is GOOD!

  • Mo' Money Mo' Houses (@momoneymohouses) February 23, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    That’s awesome. I’d be putting it towards credit card debt too, good choice.

  • Frugal(er) February 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Yay!! Oh, that must be a wonderful feeling :)

  • Ella February 25, 2012 at 2:26 am

    Here in Norway you get to know your tax return in April and it is paid to you in June. I am looking forward to know how much it will be because it is a bit difficult for me to estimate it this time. I both sold and bought an apartment last year and I got a pay raise, it impacts my taxes a lot.
    Congratulations on your return!! You are doing the right thing by paying as much CC debt as possible, it will feel sooo good to be CC debt-free!

  • Posts and Blogs I Loved This Week | When Life Gives You Lemons February 25, 2012 at 9:27 am

    […] from Blonde on a Budget got a $2700+ tax refund, over which I am completely jealous. I haven’t even gotten my T4 in the mail […]

  • CanadianSaver February 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Oh yeah!! That is a great amount… have fun allocating it wisely!

  • mochiandmacarons February 28, 2012 at 9:16 am

    For me, I’m just thrilled I will probably be paying less than the $20,000 – $30,000 I had initially estimated because of all my charitable contributions :D

  • belowhermeans February 29, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    So kick ass! My tax return was bigger than I thought too. So amped for you!