Financial Resource Center

Money Management


3 Smart Ways to Spend Your Tax Return

by Brandon Kappel / April 7th, 2017


If you’re expecting a tax refund this year, it’s smart to have a plan for your money. Don’t end up spending your refund money like it’s a bonus check from the government—treat it like any other paycheck. Think about your financial situation, and determine which way you spend it will benefit you most.

  1. Pay off high-interest debt

Put your refund to work by paying off high-interest debt. Any credit card interest that you’re paying is too much, and should be your first priority to pay down.  There are a couple of options to consider when you’re paying off card debt. Either focus on paying down the card with the highest rate first; or focus on paying off the card with the lowest balance.

  1. Start or increase an emergency fund

How prepared are you for an emergency expense? Think about a car repair, emergency room bill, or having to replace your refrigerator. Experts suggest having three to six months’ worth of expenses covered, but if you can’t save that amount right away, start with a smaller goal and increase it as you can. Do not treat money that is in retirement, investments, or college savings accounts as money to pay for unexpected expenses. A good initial goal for an emergency fund is around $500, which will give you a pretty good start and cushion for an emergency. 

  1. Invest in your future

Once you have high-interest debt under control and have put enough money in savings to cover an unexpected event, start investing for your future. When you’re young, saving for retirement may be the last thing on your mind, but doing so will help set yourself up for financial comfort later in life. Consider putting your tax refund into a Traditional or Roth IRA to strengthen your finances, and if you don’t already have one, use this opportunity to start one.

If you’ve been on your game all year don’t feel guilty about using some of your refund to treat yourself, just don’t get carried away.

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