- Author: Patti C. Wooten Swanson
Today I want to share some general rules from North Dakota State University Extension Service about using your income tax refund.
1. Think before you spend
While you're waiting for that check, do some planning. Talk with family members about your financial priorities.
- Are you behind on the mortgage or a student loan?
- Do you owe money on your credit cards?
- Does the family need a new refrigerator?
- Have you been postponing major dental work
due to lack of funds?
Planning ahead instead of just heading to the mall or electronics store will help you get the most important “bang for the buck” when you spend (or save) that refund check.
2. Use (at least) part of the money to build long-term financial security
Read any list of ways to get the most out of your tax refund and you will always find “saving for retirement” as an option.
You can't go wrong with retirement savings, but here are some other ways to use your refund that can lead to future financial security:
- save for your child's college education
- start or add to an emergency fund
- pay off high cost credit card debt
- spend money on professional development that can
lead to higher pay and greater employability-- learn another language, finish your college degree, enroll in a program to learn new skills, such as project management or how to use the newest computer software in your field.
3. Don't use the refund to go further in debt.
Buying that big-ticket item you've been wanting might be the right thing for you to do. But, if you spend the money as a down payment on a major purchase---such as a big screen TV, new bedroom furniture, or a car---you create more debt and will be taking on new monthly payments. Before making the purchase, think about whether or not your budget can support another bill.
4. Don't throw away your money on loan fees to get a quick refund.
Refund anticipation loans (RAL) charge you a fee to loan you part of your refund before the government sends your check.
Why should you pay for that?
Instead, file your tax return electronically and receive the refund payment in just 10 days. Enjoy ALL your hard-earned money. (That's what the tax refund is you know!)