It's that time of year -- I just got my tax refund check! $3,074! Pretty cool, right?
So anyhow, there's this sweet Les Paul on Reverb I'm looking at that's $2,699... Mint condition... Free shipping... Should I press Buy It Now????
Howdy, Orville! I've got answer for you: definitely, maybe.
Before you smash that button, ask yourself some questions:
How much money is in your emergency fund?
Are you currently paying any high interest credit card debt?
Are there any home or vehicle repairs you've been putting off?
If your answers to Questions 1 and 2 are "not a lot" and "yes," I'd say forget about the guitar. Keep $300 to do something fun with and split the rest between your emergency fund and your credit card. You will not dig yourself out of personal or systemic problems by purchasing a three thousand dollar instrument.
Speaking of emergency funds, the gurus recommend having three to six months of expenses set aside for a rainy day. Trying to accumulate this amount with month-to-month savings could take YEARS. When you receive a lump sum like a tax return, that's a great opportunity to increase your savings quickly. So if you aren't paying down any credit cards but your e-fund isn't looking so hot, throw at least half of your tax return in there.
Let's say you're comfortable with your savings and you aren't carrying a balance on your credit cards right now. This "free money" could prevent some costly surprise repairs if you put it towards home or car maintenance -- think HVAC, water heater, getting the dryer vent cleaned out... Tire rotation... 60K tune-up... I know, BO-RING. But better than your car breaking down on the side of the highway. (I actually just wrote to my mailing list about this -- sign up here to get these wildly exciting missives straight to your inbox!)
But perhaps your house is already in order, Orville. Should you buy that guitar? Why shouldn't you??
The wife in me wants to know how many guitars you already have. The musician in me wants to know how this guitar is different than the guitars you already have -- okay I know the answer to that question, it's a Les Paul. So will you play your shiny, "used in mint condition" Les Paul regularly, or will it sit in its case in your closet?
I feel like I should use Canva to make an arrow diagram about this, but ain't nobody got time for that. If there's something else you need the money for, be a fucking adult.
But if your bills are paid and you'll play the thing, buy the fucking guitar.
PS: If you want more of your money in your paychecks and less handed back to you at tax time, use the IRS tax withholding estimator to figure out how much you *should* be paying, then fill out a new W-4 form with your employer. Your refund will be smaller next year, but you'll have more money each month to pay off debt, fix your car, and save up for the next guitar!
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Want to know what ChatGPT thinks about buying that Les Paul? I asked it... Here's the response:
As an AI language model, I cannot provide financial advice or make purchasing decisions for you. However, I can provide you with some general factors to consider when making such a decision.
Firstly, it's important to evaluate your current financial situation and ensure that you have enough funds to cover your necessary expenses before making any non-essential purchases. It's also important to consider whether purchasing a Les Paul guitar is a wise investment based on your long-term goals and interests.
If you are a musician or passionate about playing the guitar, purchasing a Les Paul may be a valuable addition to your collection and improve your playing experience. However, if you are not an experienced player or do not have a genuine interest in learning to play the guitar, it may not be a wise investment.
In addition, you should research the different options available and consider factors such as price, quality, and features to determine whether a Les Paul guitar is the best choice for you.
Ultimately, the decision to purchase a Les Paul guitar with your tax refund should be based on your personal financial situation and goals.
So... The robot and I basically agree, but it didn't use the F-word.