April 10, 2015

Tax season is coming to a close, with the deadline for filing your taxes being less than a week away. If you’re one of the lucky Americans who gets a tax refund this year, you can use the influx of extra money as a great financial opportunity. Rather than buying a new flat screen TV or an Apple Watch™, here are a few options on how to use your refund to help put you in a more stable financial situation.

1. Pay Down Credit Card Debt – Paying down your highest interest rate debt first is suggested, but getting rid of any debt at all is great. Less debt means more money in your pocket, which you can then use to pay down other debt or to put into savings.
2. Start an Emergency Fund – Having an emergency fund for the unexpected is a great use of your tax refund. Often these situations can be devastating to people because it puts them behind on everything else, and creates an avalanche of problems. Most financial professionals suggest that you have an emergency fund large enough to cover six months’ worth of expenses. Should you lose your job, you’ll have enough to get by until you find another oneHowever, even just having $1,000 set aside can often be enough to prevent the domino effect that emergencies can cause. Using your refund to start or build-on your 6 month reserve is worth it, and it helps you avoid putting those surprise expenses onto a credit card.
3. Give to Charity – If you have no debt and you feel like you have a good amount of money set aside for a rainy day, consider giving part of your refund to a local charity. Not only will it help support your community, but it can also help lower your tax bill next year.