1. New flooring in the living room and bedrooms.
2. All new landscaping outside.
3. Overhang built off of the back patio.
While the last two are certainly important, I feel like it's most important to me to have our living space taken care of before we start working on the outside. So, I think that in terms of the refund, the portion that we've allocated towards the house shall go to that.
First, a quick breakdown of what we're planning to do with our refund, which looks like it will total about $8500.
- $3000- Directly to savings. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Our savings took a serious hit when we purchased the house and then the camera, and I really feel like we need to beef it up a bit in this economy. Dave Ramsay advocates to have a $1000 emergency fund and then start snowballing debt. However, $3000 is more than two months' mortgage payment, which I feel more comfortable with. Ideally, I'd like to have six months worth of mortgage payments (or more), but I think this is a good start. I should also mention that a portion of this will include paying off our fridge, which is on a no payment no interest for a year plan, so I'd rather be gaining interest on that money, rather than pay it off early, thank you very much.
- $1500- Debt reduction. This will essentially wipe out our credit card debt, which would be FANTASTIC. We have never carried high balances, but I'd like to wipe it out nonetheless.
- $3500- We had budgeted this money for house renovations, mostly in terms of floors. Happily, after consulting with contractor dad, it's looking like it will cost $800-$1000 to put in new flooring. Justin and I have allocated another $1000 or so towards buying the loveseat portion of our living room furniture, and probably a flat screen TV. We will also need a light colored area rug, as we'll likely be getting darker hardwood and we already have fairly dark furniture, and we'd like to get a double curtain rod for the living room as well. I will also be scouring Craigslist to see if we can find a futon for the spare bedroom.
- If there's any money left over, I'd like for us each to get $100 or so as fun money. Obviously, this would be icing on the cake, but I also know that when we get any sort of "windfall", it's hard not to want to buy things for yourself. I find that if we give ourselves a budgeted amount, it's easier to stick to it--AND we're not looking back and saying "what in the WORLD happened to all that money?!" (last year's tax return anyone?).