How I Used Tax Time to Change My Life

Hope you met the deadline for filing your taxes. Better yet, hope you got a refund.

I didn’t. Not this year.

This tax season.

I was single with no dependents to claim so I joined many of my single friends who don’t have kids and have been used to not getting a refund at all. Even paying in at times.

This was new for me. I had to pay! Even with my business and homeownership deductions, I had to pay.  Ugh.

But I didn’t feel that bad about it because I had benefited from my tax situation in the past, and I’m thankful that I was smart enough to use it wisely.

I’m no tax expert AT ALL

But I want to share what I did with my income tax return as a relatively low-income, single mother that changed my life.

1. In high school and in college, I worked (plus I was a mother) so I got a return.

I even got earned income credit. I used that money to pay up my rent so that I wouldn’t struggle and stress each month trying to pay it.

2. At my first job after college, I still met the requirements to get earned income credit.

I used the money to pay off my car note, my used but nice Lexus RX 300. Debt-free vehicle #1, and I did it in six months.

3. In the following two years, I used my tax return to save for my first house.

4. Once in my house, my tax refund was used to get ahead on my mortgage.

5. Over two tax seasons, I used my refund to pay off my student loan debt from graduate school.

Yes, that can be done!

6. No longer getting earned income credit after I earned more money on my next jobs.

I still got a refund and used it to pay off the new-to-me truck, my Lexus RX 330, that I bought once the old one needed to be replaced. I sold the first truck and that money, combined with the tax refund and savings which included some money from previous refunds, was used to pay off the new truck. Debt-free vehicle #2, and I did in three months.
Refunds after that were put into savings which helped to make it possible for me to leave Corporate America and start my own business.

I used nearly every dime of my refunds for what I said above, and occasionally I bought very few non-necessities for myself and my son. I always viewed that lump sum of money from my income tax refund as an opportunity to get ahead, not fulfill a short-term want.

So this year when I did not get a refund, I was completely okay because my past decisions had already gotten me ahead!



I’m Summer Owens, and my passion is helping youth and young adults realize success no matter what obstacles they face. As an international resilience and leadership keynote speaker, author, S.O. What! Success Coach, and creator of the S.O. What! Literacy, Life Skills, and Character Education curriculum, I empower people to say, “So what!” to even their greatest challenges.  provide a framework to help people see past their challenges and focus on solutions using the S.O. What! Success System (Overcome Obstacles + Eliminate Excuses + Calculate Choices = S.O. What! Success). Through keynotes, workshops, books, online courses, and workbooks, I use life’s challenges and my own story of resilience as a rape survivor and teen mom success story to help others confidently pursue their dreams.

Looking for an inspiring college motivational speaker? A high school literacy curriculum? A middle school life skills workbook? A great example for teen mothers? A women’s empowerment or single mother’s conference speaker?  I’m your girl and will help any audience say, “S.O. What!”.