Smart Ways to Use Your Tax Refund

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You pay a debt to Uncle Sam with every paycheck throughout
the year, so when you get a tax refund, it is best to spend it wisely. The
average tax refund amount is rising, and the extra money can be used to give
you a jump-start on safeguarding your financial future. Instead of springing
for a trip to the beach or a new flat screen television, think about spending
your funds on something that will give you an even bigger bang for your buck.

Add to Your Emergency Fund

When getting credit was a piece of cake and the job market
was thriving, living paycheck to paycheck may not have been so terrible, but
having a solid emergency fund is absolutely essential today. Put your tax fund
in a savings account dedicated solely to emergencies, and aim to save up enough
money to get you through a minimum of three months without a paycheck. That
means saving up for food, utilities, your mortgage and any other regular
expenses. You’ll be so grateful you have those funds if you ever need them.

Relieve Your Debt Load

If you are just making the minimum payment on your credit
card each month, you’ll spend years getting out of debt, and every purchase you
make will end up costing double or triple if your interest rate is high. Make
headway on your debt with your tax refund so you won’t be paying for last
week’s dinner out for the next two years.

Develop Skills

Invest in your future by spending your tax refund on
something that will further your career or develop your skill set. Check out continuing
education courses
in your area or online or attend a weekend conference to
network with others in your industry. For just a few hundred dollars, you can
increase your future earning power significantly.

Put Money in Your Retirement Account

It may seem like you have an eternity to save up for
retirement, but you don’t. Max out your account if it has an employer match and
commit to adding your tax refund every year to boost
your funds
.

Tackle a Project

Maintenance projects are expensive, but they can become even
more costly if ignored. Use your tax refund to repair that leaky roof, replace
the old tires on your car or buy an energy-efficient furnace. If you make
changes that boost your home’s energy efficiency, you may be eligible to earn a
federal tax credit in the following year.