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Top Ten Ways to Drop $600

By Christopher Schonberger

Starting this month, those coveted $600 tax rebates from the government will start hitting the mailboxes of recent grads who kept it real last year and didn’t make very much money. The big question is

: What are you going to do with the extra dough?

New York Magazine’s “18 Ways to Blow Your Tax Rebate” provides a good starting point to get the wheels turning. Needless to say, investing is a the smartest move, though it sort of mitigates the thrill of “free money.” We also like the idea of becoming a member of your favorite museum (especially if it throws good parties), donating to charity (thus amplifying the tax benefit of your rebate!!??), or joining a “Wine of the Month” club. However, NYMag’s list is a little too hoity-toity and NYC-centric for us on the whole, so we decided to do a little brainstorming of our own. Check it out:

Gradspot.com’s Top 10 Ways to Drop $600

The dollar may not be worth much in the international sense these days, but 600 bones can still go a long way, especially if you're willing to gamble it recklessly. If you were lucky enough to get a full rebate, here are some ways to spend your bonus cash:

Step Up Your Denim Game. Nothing says “recent grad on the rise” like incredibly fresh jeans. And while you may need a nice suit or dress for work, there’s probably no piece of clothing that has as much versatility and long-term value as a pair of jeans. Start your hunt at superdenim and Self Edge (the go-to sites for denim connoisseurs), and while you’re at it check out Denim Demon for some solid options that won’t completely max out your rebate. Ladies, look into Sling and Stones for ultimate craftsmanship. Discerning blokes should also peep Real Real Genuine, a British company that stands above the hype by being about one thing: quality. However, if you really want to take it to the next level, look into Blue Blood Denim, which has a line of jeans that are worn by actual workers in the cotton field before being dry-cleaned, repaired, and sold to you.

Start Gaming Again. In case you haven’t been paying attention, video games are fully en vogue right now, thanks in large part to a slew of high-profile releases, the maturation of last year’s "next-gen" consoles, and that scene in Gossip Girl when they played Guitar Hero. Grand Theft Auto IV (Xbox 360 and PS3, $59.99) is great for blowing off steam after work—despite what the media says, stealing cars and shooting people in the face can be quite cathartic. The Nintendo Wii (from $329.99) is a great system to play with friends, especially since Mario Kart ($49.99 with steering wheel) hit the shelves recently. Finally, we can’t get enough of Rockband (all systems; from $159.99), because at the end of the day, nothing beats shredding a Bon Jovi song while doing faux stage dives onto your couch.

Pay Off Your Student Debt. Being practical may be mundane, but it is also financially beneficial—prepaying as much of your debt as you can means that you’ll pay less interest in the long run. Before taking the high road with your cool six-hundo, be sure to read our survival guide on Student Debt Consolidation and Forgiveness.

Get Your Sex and the City On. Let’s face it: girls are much better at spending money than guys. Ask some dudes how to spend $600, and you usually just get a bad joke ("hookers!!"). Ask some girls and they go straight into full-on fantasy-mode (though I guess you could say the guys are doing the same). A day at a Bliss or Red Door Spa! A pair of Manolo Blahnik or Christian Louboutin shoes! A Ferragamo handbag! Carrie Bradshaw would be proud—just make sure you save $10 for Sex and the City: The Movie on May 30.

Go Watch Live Sports. If you’re in a city with a team that’s still in the NBA Playoffs, a $600 check could not come at a better time. But for casual fans, quantity over quality may be the best bet for your social life. Almost all Major League Baseball teams offer ticket bundles spanning anywhere from a few games to every home game left in the season (though bear in mind that many of these might be sold out already). Grab two tickets for a bunch of games this summer, and when you can’t bring a friend just pawn them off in your office or on Stubhub.com.

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