As the tax filing deadline looms a little more than one month ahead of us here in the U.S., many people are making plans for their tax refunds. Articles with titles such as "9 Ways To Use A Tax Refund" and "How to Put Your Tax Refund to Good Use" are popping up everywhere from social media sites to daily newspapers and monthly magazines. The advice given in all of these articles is generally tried and true…pay down your debt, invest, buildup an emergency savings account, etc… You've heard this before. It's the same advice we hear every year, and for good reason. It's sound advice.
It's good to be careful and prudent. It's important to act rationally and responsibly. But it's also important to be kind and generous. And these are the virtues that are excluded from the "what to do with your money" lists every year. At a time when many families are struggling and organizations that offer basic services such as food, shelter and health services are experiencing record demand, would it be too much to ask that we appeal to the better angels of our nature and actively engage in local philanthropy?
An unexpected or higher than expected tax refund of any amount is an opportunity to help those around us. Use this as an opportunity to teach your children about giving. Use this to help a family that you know is going through a difficult time. Use this to strengthen the very foundation of our shared communities. Think of it like this: you can't lose what you never had.