Many of you find yourselves financially stable, even in the recession. You have enjoyed your tax refund in different ways - buying a car, taking a family trip and even saving up enough for your kid's college education fund. This year, when you reach the crossroad of how to invest your money, ponder over spending it selflessly ... and wisely. (For related reading, also take a look at 9 Ways To Use A Tax Refund.)
TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics

Selfless-activities don't necessarily boil down to charity. It also means investing money in different avenues by which one gives back to the community and gets educated in the process. These include helping your elders or someone unknown in distressed situation, or even understanding the nuances of non-profit by spending in the right direction.

1. Parent Fund
Every parent saves a part of their hard-earned fortune for their children's education or weddings. An education fund or savings bond are familiar vehicles for this type of savings. But how often do children save up for their parents when they grow old?

While in some cultures this is a known practice, in others it's just viewed as a noble practice. A parent-fund will allow you to slowly collect money for the larger goal of helping your parents through difficult times of illness. This fund can also be used in buying a valuable gift for your parents such as a vacation or a high-tech gadget. The tax-refund money can fully or partially satisfy this goal.

2. Charity Jar
You may have the money to contribute toward a charity, but not the timing is not always right. Saving for unforeseen charity opportunities will remove the stress of taking a chunk from your existing savings. Buying cookies from Girls Scouts or pitching in for a benefit party are great ways to help a cause, while receiving a little something in return.

This collection doesn't have to be an overwhelming amount. When the tax refund comes, slowly start depositing $50 a month in this goodwill account. As the money starts to populate across months, you will have plenty nearing the year-end. More often than not, you will end up donating money to a cause personally related to you, and that is truly satisfying.

3. Go Fair-Trade Shopping
Eating and shopping at a non-profit eatery or store is not only a good deed, but it is highly educational as well. Breeze through a fair-trade store and you will see that laborers in underdeveloped and developing countries such as Equdaor, Chile, India, Vietnam and Mexico produce items that are sold there. These stores promise to provide these workers full wages and a healthy working environment.

These stores also offer educational facts that can be value for your money. Similarly, eating at a locally owned non-profit café will benefit the community or the particular cause the money goes to. This could be one of those family traditions your kids can be proud of.

TUTORIAL: Personal Income Tax Guide

4. Sponsor a Child
There are many disaster-struck areas where children go without food, clothing and even education. Providing for a child's well-being is a reasonable expense for a financially-stable individual. The range is between $35 to $40 a month, depending on the country and the goal. With tax refunds averaging around $3,000 this year, $400 to $500 is a practical amount to spend on a good cause such as this.

There are several non-profit groups that can walk you through this process and they are accessible on the web.

The Bottom Line
While tax refunds are mostly seen as the most probable saving or investing proposition, many people believe going beyond the routine. Set aside a part of your tax refund for some good deeds and spend or invest the rest. It's a great way to balance your year. (For additional reading, also check out Want A Bigger tax Refund? Don't Itemize.)

Related Articles
  1. Taxes

    Taxes: H&R Block Vs. TurboTax Vs. Jackson Hewitt

    There are more and more tax services to help ease the pain of filing income taxes. Here's our take on three of the biggest.
  2. Taxes

    Confused About Estimated Tax Deadlines for 2016?

    If you run a business or have investment income, pay attention to this year's estimated tax deadlines. Here are the details, and what's new for 2016.
  3. Retirement

    Retirement Plan Tax Prep Checklist

    Here's a list of items you need to have in order by tax time, including paying attention to those pesky required minimum distributions.
  4. Tax Strategy

    A Beginner’s Guide To Tax-Efficient Investing

    Tax-efficiency is a measure of how much of an investment’s return remains after taxes are paid.
  5. Retirement

    The High Net Worth Guide to Medicare

    In the years ahead, wealthy seniors will pick up an even bigger part of the Medicare tab. However, there are ways to minimize the bill.
  6. Personal Finance

    University Donations: Which Schools Got the Most

    A closer look at the staggering $40.3 billion donated to colleges and universities in 2015.
  7. Philanthropy

    How Billionaires Around the Globe Give Back

    This list of foreign billionaire philanthropists is robust. Here's a list of rich entrepreneurs around the globe who have given back in really big ways.
  8. Retirement

    Your Retirement-Planning Team

    As you accumulate wealth, retirement planning can be too complex for just one person. The right team can help you avoid headaches and reach your goals.
  9. Investing Basics

    Know Your Stock Cost Basis

    A stock’s cost basis is its purchase price plus all reinvested dividends and commissions.
  10. Taxes

    Recharacterizing Your IRA Contribution or Roth Conversion

    Learn why you might make such a transaction and find out how to calculate how it will affect you.
RELATED FAQS
  1. When should my tax refund arrive?

    More than 90% of income-tax refunds arrive in less than three weeks, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). However, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How do I file taxes for income from foreign sources?

    If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, your income (except for amounts exempt under federal law), including that which ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Are Flexible Spending Account (FSA) items tax deductible?

    Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) are employer-sponsored, tax-favored savings plans expressly for the future reimbursement ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How Long Should I Keep My Tax Records?

    The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has some hard and fast rules regarding how long taxpayers should keep their tax records. As ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Do tax brackets include Social Security?

    A portion of your Social Security benefits may be subject to federal taxation using tax brackets. Your tax bracket is determined ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Do 401k contributions reduce AGI and/or MAGI?

    Traditional 401(k) contributions effectively reduce both adjusted gross income (AGI) and modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). ... Read Full Answer >>
Trading Center