Because we live on a lump of rock and soil called America, we go through the annual, expensive, and tedious ritual of filling out some paperwork so the government can either give us back some money we’ve already given them, or tell us how much more we have to give them.
Hopefully this year you fall into the former category, and hopefully you get plenty back. Thought the
IRK IRS seems to have been a bit sparing with their information, they say that the average tax refund for 2011 was about 3 grand. That will probably drop a bit this year, since something had to drop off that cliff.
Meanwhile, single, scrabbling bloggers who work across the state line will get about $500 back…according to our research, of course.
So with $3k as the ceiling, and $500 as the floor, we thought we’d come up with a few cool things to buy with the refund you forgot you were getting.
(We know most of you didn’t forget, and have already made plans for all that juice, but some people hate doing taxes so much that they tend to get it over with quickly, then bury the experience so deep within the blackest corners of their memory that they’re actually able to forget, for a few fleeting moments, that they’ll have to go through it all again every year for the rest of their pitiful lives.)
1. The Initial Trifecta
Let’s get this out of the way. If you want to improve your car’s power, the easiest way is with a trio of items: the cold air intake, the performance exhaust, and the power programmer. They’re all easy to install, and fairly inexpensive, as power goes.
2. A Kart
With the possible exception of autocross, karting is undoubtedly the least expensive way to get into twisty racing, and, by extension, one of the most fun. A decent chunk back from the g-men should put you in a beginner kart with more than enough fun to charge your whole year.
3. Used Lift
For as simple as they are, car lifts are tirelessly expensive. But you get what you pay for, and when you’re hoisting your favorite object 8 feet in the air, you want to get alot. A new one will set you back about 5 grand, but a Craigslist perusal could turn your garage into an auto shop. In which case, don’t tell your friends.
4. A Beater Project
You all know what we’re talking about. That old Fox body Mustang, E30 BMW, or the rusty Trans Am your neighbor is selling. Maybe it’s a gutted pickup you want to turn into a rock crawler. Three thousand smackos won’t buy you the fastest thing on the street or strip, but it will buy you a lot of fun, and you won’t have to worry about scratching the paint.
5. F1 Weekend in Austin
Formula One is the most expensive motorsport in the world, and sadly, the fans are not excluded. But a sizeable tax refund should at least get you into the race. Just pack some blankets in the wagon so you don’t have to sleep in gauged-out hotel.
6. Winter Wheels
Tires are like soap. You can never have enough, because you’ll eventually use them all up, and also they smell nice. So as long as you’re going to burn through them, a set of winter wheels and tires will improve your traction when things get slick and extend the life of your summer rubber.
7. Fresh Paint
A high-quality, wet-sand respray is prohibitively expensive in most cases, but not when you’re flush with fresh bread. If your car’s skin has never been worth waxing, now’s your chance to rectify the situation. And you’ll prevent future rust so your car doesn’t turn into a fun beater like the ones mentioned above.
8. A Down Payment on a Garage
Of course, another way to prevent rust is to store your ride in the garage. If, however, you’re among we les misérables who don’t have one, now might be the time to build that dream pole barn in the back yard.
9. A Track Day
This is probably the only shot you’ll get to really see the limits of your car’s handling. Legally, anyway. Get some friends together and rent out the local track for a few hours.
10. A Shot at Rallying
Racing, as mentioned above, is absurdly expensive. But everyone has to start someone, and a good place to start on a dividend is in a durable, low-speed rally car. You don’t really have to worry about crashing into other cars, and you don’t have to be as fast as everyone else. Rally driver Bill Caswell bought his old BMW on Craigslist for $500 and built it into a serviceable racer in his mom’s garage. If your mother is equally understanding, look into a sturdy, 2WD rally car and start your adventure.
What are your ideas? How have you spent your tax refunds in the past?