7 Ways to Invest Your Tax Refund Into Your Health

Put that refund check toward the TLC your mind and body need—you deserve it.

Real talk: Tax season is a headache. From gathering your year-end tax statements to sorting out the exemptions you're entitled to, submitting all the necessary materials by April 18 (yep, tax day falls on the 18th this year) is no fun. What is fun? Receiving your tax refund. According to the IRS, the average refund lands somewhere around $3,000.

Living through a pandemic has been no small feat—and chances are, your mind and body are feeling the brunt of the stress and uncertainty of the past two years. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's to value our health. So why not invest some of your tax refund in yourself?

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Getty Images / Design by Jo Imperio

Think of it this way: health is wealth. By putting your tax return toward your own wellness, you can lower your risk of many chronic conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure, and save you money on health care costs down the line," Hitha Palepu, CEO of Rhoshan Pharmaceuticals, tells Health.

The new year can be overwhelming, thanks to the pressure to reinvent ourselves and create new healthy habits, most of which only last a couple of weeks. So Palepu suggests narrowing down your focus. "When considering investing in your health, pick one area to focus on and set a quantitative goal," Palepu explains. (For example, you want to lower your A1C levels.) She also suggests setting a qualitative goal, such as to feel stronger and more toned.

Palepu says she's investing in quarterly blood tests (which are not covered by her insurance), nutritional green juice powder to start her day, and movement: "Currently walking on the treadmill daily while watching an episode of Succession—attainable and enjoyable," she says.

While you may need to spend that extra $3,000 on essentials, see if you can invest part of it in your health, too. Here are six healthy ways to put your tax refund to good use this year.

Leave meal prep to someone else

Preparing a nutritious meal after a long day of work is hard. Make things simpler for yourself by investing in a meal kit service. Companies like Blue Apron drop off three boxes per week (each package serves two) for $60. That's 312 fewer meals to worry about annually—and your tax refund will cover almost all of them.

"A healthy lifestyle begins with a healthy diet, which unfortunately tends to have a higher cost than processed, junk food," Mobola Kukoyi, MD, a board-certified emergency and public health physician in Illinois, tells Health.

While they are an investment, meal delivery kits can save you money by taking the work out of cooking and making it easy to eat healthier, so you're less tempted to reach for the takeout menu. Plus, there are tons of options for all kinds of dietary needs. For example, meal delivery service Purple Carrot offers 100% plant-based meals delivered to your door for $72 dollars (three meals serving two) or $80 (two meals serving four).

Get sweaty

Even the most expensive gym membership options can be covered by your tax refund. An all-access nationwide pass to Crunch gyms will only cost you about $33 per month ($395 for the whole year), so you'll have funds left over to invest in those luxe workout leggings you've been eyeing.

You could also invest in a personal trainer, or an online program. "If you're more of a solo person, look into investing in an online program that you can do at your own pace," suggests Jordan Hardin, certified ACE personal trainer and integrative nutrition health coach.

"This can be for anything; you can find programs that will teach you how to eat, how to exercise, how to manage stress, meditation techniques, etc.," Hardin adds.

Bump up your blender

Mix, whip, and pulse your way to health with the blender you didn't think you could afford. A Vitamix may cost anywhere between $300 to $600, but it makes more than just smoothies; you can create dairy-free milks, hot soups, nut butters, and more in the tricked-out kitchen appliance.

Invest in your mental health

Put the extra dollars toward therapy. "Therapy with a qualified mental health professional can help you learn to manage emotions, improve relationships, and reduce anxiety or stress," Rebecca Phillips, MS, LPC, tells Health.

Phillips says that investing in your mental health not only benefits you but those around you, too. And it can have a profound effect on your body. "Because of the mind-body connection, psychotherapy can also help you improve physical health by improving sleep and tension in your body," Phillips explains.

Finding affordable therapy options can sometimes be a challenge, even with extra cash from your tax refund, so seek out therapists who have a sliding scale fee structure to save more.

(Re)Treat yourself

Book yourself a wellness retreat. For example, the five-star Carillon Miami Wellness Resort is currently offering a Jump Start Your Health & Wellness retreat from $2,000. A getaway that focuses on healthy mind and body practices and good nutrition could be just the thing you need this year.

If a retreat doesn't seem feasible, book yourself a spa day (or two). "Mental wellness encompasses a big part of overall health, so perhaps using some of that extra money towards a few spa days may be just what one needs to recharge and refresh," says Dr. Kukoyi.

Bring the spin studio to you

Tired of trekking it to your local studio? Buy your own bike. Brands such as Peloton let you tune in for real-time classes at home, so you can spin in the comfort of your bedroom. A Peloton bike starts at $1,495, but with its delivery charge and monthly subscription fee, it'll basically equal the average tax refund.

Save it for later

There's nothing wrong with saving up. Deposit or invest your $3,000 to save for good-for-you future splurges, whether it's an anti-aging facial, pricey green juices, or a fancy new foam roller.

If you have an HSA (health savings account), another option is to use your tax refund to maximize your HSA contribution. The money can then be used to pay for future medical expenses.

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