Are you tempted to plan a vacation or spend your entire check on a new spring wardrobe now that you have your tax refund coming your way? Before getting too exciting about your refund and spending it all in one place think about how you can make this money work to your benefit going forward. Whether you are getting back hundreds or thousands here are a few things you should do with your check before hitting up the mall:
1) Pay off high interest debt
Regardless of how much money you’re getting back, reducing and eliminating your debt should be your number once priority. Start with the highest interest debt until your balances are resolved. Don’t forget about your student loans.
2) Contribute to your emergency fund
Remember last week when I talked about creating a stable emergency fund? This is a perfect time to put extra money towards this savings account. Once you pay off your debt, your next priority is to establish an emergency savings fund for at least six to nine months worth of your monthly spending.
3) Medium Goals
What types of things do you plan to do in the next 3-5 years? Once you pay off your debt and establish an emergency fund put some of your refund towards items like buying a house, wedding, buying a car, etc. Remember that anything that will cause you to borrow money at an interest rate above 0 percent will cost you more than it’s worth. The more you can put forth out-of-pocket, the less you pay in the end.
4) Roth IRA
ROTH IRA contributions, placing up to $5,500 of your refund can also boost your refund, because your contribution grows tax-free, and withdrawals are tax-free upon retirement.
5) Spend it on something you need
Are you having car trouble, do you need a new winter coat, or have you put off dental work? You need to take care of these essentials, preventative issues and now that your refund is here, you can cover the cost.
If you’re smart you can make your refund check work for you and improve your financial situation. You can even treat yourself, but don’t blow it at all the mall or splurge too much!