tax refund

The IRS has officially started rolling out coronavirus stimulus checks to millions of Americans.

Between 50 and 70 million people are due to receive the stimulus checks, which are part of the government's $2.2 trillion economic recovery package and intended to stimulate the stalled economy during the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent shut downs of most aspects of civil life. Residents who've filed taxes in the past two years and submitted their direct deposit information began receiving the deposits on Friday of last week and are expected to receive them by Wednesday, April 15. Anyone who qualifies but has not submitted their direct deposit banking information is expected to receive a paper check at a later date. However, anyone who has not filed or made their banking information available may input their information in the IRS' new portal here.

Qualifying citizens are those who have reported an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less. Filers of joint tax returns will receive a one-time payment of $2,400 and those will dependents will receive an additional $500 for each qualifying child. All others will receive the standard one-time payment of $1,200.

Meanwhile, Canada is providing its citizens who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic with up to four months of $2,000 CAD monthly payments. Australian citizens who have been furloughed from their jobs receive $1,500 AUD every two weeks. Newsweek reports that "Britain's government is issuing grants covering 80 percent of unemployed workers' salaries up to a total of £2,500 ($3,084) a month. The package also reportedly contains statutory sick pay for employees that have been told to self-isolate...Denmark has pledged to pay from 75 to 90 percent of employees' salaries up to a monthly amount of 26,000 Danish kroner ($3,288 USD)...France will pay 70 percent of an employee's gross salary to a monthly maximum of €6,927 ($7,575 USD)...Germany will pay 67 percent of net wages up to a maximum of €6,700 per month ($7,326.78 USD)....Ireland will give 70 percent of employee salaries up to a maximum of €410 per week ($448.36 USD)."

But sit tight and keep refreshing your bank account for that life-changing, crisis-averting one-time payment of $1,200...unless you're a U.S. college student who's still claimed as a dependent or a retiree who receives Social Security. Forget you guys.

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The average tax refund last year was around $3,000, according to the IRS. While it's always a safe bet to squirrel this money away for a rainy day, there are other uses for your refund that are not only more fun and personally enriching, but also completely responsible.

Here are our 10 best ideas for how you can use your tax refund in the coming year.

Plan a summer vacation

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Summer isn't too far off; begin planning and investing now so you know you'll be able to take the vacation you've been dreaming of. Be strategic: how much money will you need and when? Is your destination do-able, or do you need to think of new options? The earlier you plan, the more effectively you can use your money. For some inspiration, check out the New York Times' list of 52 places to visit in 2018, which includes places you may not have thought of, from Denver on a budget to farm stays in rural Iceland or fine dining in Tasmania.

Replace a faulty appliance and get "smart"

It may seem like a minor issue, but don't underestimate the liberation of no longer seething while cleaning your leaky coffee maker every morning. While you're at it, get a "smart" appliance that will make your life that much easier, like a Behmor coffee maker that brews to your personal specifications ($169.99 on Amazon), an iRobot mop ($169 on Amazon), or go big and get several smart appliances and master them all with Bosch Home Connect, which allows for such pleasures as starting a load of laundry from the comfort of your bed.

Fund a hobby

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Filling your free time with fulfilling hobbies is rarely free of cost. Baking, knitting, and even running all require some financial investment. Whether you're looking to fund a hobby you already enjoy or find a new hobby you're curious about, you can use your tax refund to maximize your personal enjoyment outside of work. New York magazine has compiled a comprehensive list of 20 hobbies to enjoy in 2018, from quirky pastimes like floral arranging, to learning how to become a better cook and hosting awesome dinner parties for your friends.

Make an investment in your human capital

Improve your résumé and position at work, or improve your future prospects, by making an investment in your human capital. You can take a class to learn a résumé-boosting skill, book a self-appointed business trip or conference that will help you make important connections, or, use your tax refund to invest in an exciting business idea you'd like to develop down the road.

Reboot

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Invest in your health (and finally meet those New Years' goals) with a diet or fitness reboot. This should be an investment that will encourage you to commit. To become a better eater, why not invest in a meal delivery service like HelloFresh or make homemade juices and smoothies with a Vitamix blender? If you're looking to become more fit, consider joining a gym (this can often be more effective than going to stand-alone classes), or if you want to work on your mental wellbeing, consider going on a wellness retreat with some friends.

Be a philanthropist

If you're feeling generous, there are plenty of worthy causes to contribute to this year, from fighting for safer gun laws, funding aid for Syrian refugees, giving money to a political campaign you believe in, or donating to an organization that's helping to raise awareness about climate change or pay gaps between men and women. Here are some of the top charities for 2018.

Get an electronic upgrade

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Use your refund to get a new phone or tablet, and pay it off in full so your monthly phone bill doesn't go up. While it's true that you don't need to upgrade your personal electronics often—definitely not as often as new upgrades come out—if you've been holding on to an iPhone 4, there are many benefits to going bigger. The iPhone x for instance is a huge leap from other editions, offering the ability to take professional-grade photos, a longer battery life (goodbye Mophie cases!), and even a wireless charging feature.

Get a more comfortable pair of shoes

Many of us continue to shuffle to work in blister-inducing heels for no good reason other than we're too lazy to find a comfortable pair of work shoes. Finding comfy shoes that don't look like orthotics takes a bit of research, but your time will absolutely be rewarded, saving you from blisters or even more serious complications like fasciitis or chronic arch pain. Check out our list of 2018's most comfortable, stylish shoes.

Get some new lingerie

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Yes, this is a completely worthwhile use of your money! Throw anything out that you'd be embarrassed to show to another human and replace all of it. Don't underestimate how much this will feel like a new beginning. Plus, there are some incredible new bra and undie brands that are worth investing in, as much for style as for comfort, many of which are owned and operated by women. Some favorites include the new underwear line from Everlane, Lively, Bare Necessities, Journelle, and Natori.