YAAAS— you’re getting a tax refund this year! The IRS must be in a good mood, because it has already doled out nearly $125 billion in refunds. Nearly 83 percent of people who filed individual federal income tax returns are expected to get a refund this year, the IRS predicts, with an average refund of $3,120. That feels like a windfall, so you may be feeling flush. Before you start throwing cheese around in the nightclub, making it rain and all, hang on. You’ve been smart, and put some of that cash into your rainy day fund, right? Paid off some credit cards, and invested a little? If so, time to whip out the plastic and splurge on tech you might never otherwise buy for yourself… go on, you deserve it. Below, some great suggestions on spending your tax refund.
You’ve got $300 to $500 to spend
There are earphones, and then there are Dash Wireless Smart Headphones. These wireless buds ($299) fit into your ear like some super spy option. During a workout, the buds track your biometric data and give you live audio feedback on steps and activity duration and you can even swim in these suckers, as they are waterproof to 1 meter. Listen to tunes with an integrated 4 GB music player or stream audio via Bluetooth. Tap the earphone for built-in wireless call handling, enjoying audio transparency for safety—that means you can still hear the environment around you. A companion app (iOS, Android, Windows) lets you set up preferences and track your performance data.
3D printers are revolutionizing the way things are made—from jet engine parts to… pancakes? Yep, even a non-morning person will roll out of bed to see the PancakeBot food printer in action. Instead of molten plastic, the printer ($299.99) lets kids of all ages whip up pancakes using an automatic batter dispenser onto a griddle, with designs loaded via an SD card. Free software lets you design any pancake style you want, and pre-made designs—like Einstein’s face—are also available for download. Now about that syrup. Anyone have any genius ideas?
If you’re sick and tired of fighting with your WiFi, maybe it’s time to splurge on an Eero system ($499 for a three pack). Instead of depending on one router, or one router plus a range extender, Eeros create a mesh network—the company claims it’s the first of its kind on the consumer level—around your house for fast, reliable WiFi. The app lets you manage this network from your mobile. Here’s how it all goes down: The first eero gets inserted into your DSL modem or cable, and additional eeros get plugged into wall outlets for power. The app then steers you on how to place the eeros around your home to blanket your place with a solid connection. No more foil helmets, jiggling wires, or waiting out the dreaded “buffering” message right in the middle of last night’s episode of Game of Thrones.
You’ve got $700 to $1,000 to spend
Vacuuming your own floors? That’s so 2002. (Robot vacuums have been around for 14 years already!) Roomba 980 is the latest from iRobot, and at $849, it’s definitely an investment—and many reviews say this one is worth it. This model has an AeroForce Cleaning System, to boost suction on carpet and rugs, and tone it down on tile and hardwood. Brushless extractors prevent jams from hair and gunk, especially key if you have pets in the home. The Roomba motors around your place using sensors, tracking what it has, and has not yet cleaned, using a high-efficiency cleaning pattern. It can zoom around doing this for up to two hours, but then it is wise enough to recharge itself, before setting out to clean some more. Set it up to clean on a weekly or daily cleaning schedule using the app. Voila! A spiffy floor, all the time. As with previous models, a Roomba will befuddle your dog and baby. You can’t engineer that stuff.
Here’s a good splurge for music lovers. If you love your wireless Sonos smart speaker system, layer on some sternum-throbbing bass with the Sub speaker ($698). The wireless subwoofer works with the Playbar and smaller speakers to create 5.1 Surround Sound in your home theater, and can be positioned horizontally, vertically, or even flat, under a couch, if space is really tight.
You’ve got more than $1,000 to spend
Tesla just unveiled its new Model 3 electric car, garnering 198,000 preorders for the vehicle ($35,000); it starts doing 0 to 60 with deliveries in 2017. Your refund isn’t likely to be large enough to buy a car, but the company is dominating the world of large lithium ion batteries, and a purchase of a Tesla Powerwall ($3,000) might actually to be prove a sound investment, rather than a total extravagance. It’s a wall-mounted, rechargeable lithium ion battery with 6.4 kWh of storage capacity, and it charges up using a home’s solar panels. It powers an entire home in the evening and at night; can be used as an emergency backup when the power conks out; or if you’re really feeling green, can take you off the grid entirely. You will need the services of a professional electrician to install the system, though it’s refreshingly sleek and requires no maintenance once it’s mounted.
Turn that master bath into a relaxing home spa? Yes, please. A Steamist system (starting about $2,000) will involve having a small steam generator installed into your shower, turning it into a touchscreen-controlled steambath. Personalize this hot and steamy experience more with an AromaSense pump system, which allows a bather to place essential oils into the steamhead. If sound helps you unwind, spring for a control module equipped with a wireless receiver, allowing you to stream those ambient spa whale calls—or The Weeknd, whatever your jam is—from your smartphone, iPad, iPad or other Bluetooth-enabled device. (It works from up to 30 feet away, keeping your safely device out of the steamy bathroom.) Speaking of devices, use the WiFi interface to set your Steamist going to your preferred temperature, before you even set foot in the bathroom.
It’s bigger, it’s brighter, it’s got millions more pixels. Basically, this TV will blow everyone out of your living room (in a good way). The Samsung 65″ Smart LED 4K Ultra HD TV ($3,300) is curved viewing in all its glory. 4K that means you’re getting a super crisp image, with tons of visual detail; TV fans recommend sitting up close—sorry, Mom—to get the full effect. This TV also offers 3D and comes with a pair of active 3D glasses, plus all sort of other fun options, such as PlayStation Now PS3 game streaming, Internet-ready Smart TV with built-in web browser, a top-mounted camera, and 2-way screen mirroring, so you can send content wireless from device to TV or TV to device.
So tell me, what are you going to splurge on? I’d love to hear! Share photos, too. I can’t wait to see what you did with your tax refund.
Keep the good tax vibes going by making next year’s taxes a cinch: Stay organized with my story on How To Store Tax Receipts so that your year will flow smoothly.