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4 Ways to Use Your Tax Refund Wisely

Published: January 2019

Many people might agree that filing taxes isn’t an enjoyable task — but once you’re done filling out the forms, you may get excited if you see that a refund is coming your way. If your tax refund is a significant amount of money, it’s important to put that money to use in the best way possible. For some, that may mean paying down credit cards, while for others, it means putting it toward retirement savings. No matter what you choose, you will want to ensure you’ve considered your options before making a final decision. Here’s a look at four ways to use your tax return.

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1. Put it Toward Your Retirement

Consider putting your tax return towards your retirement plan, or use it to start one. An individual retirement account (IRA) may help you get started, says the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). There are a few options to choose from if you decide to invest in an IRA. With a traditional IRA, the funds you deposit may qualify as a tax deduction, however any contributions you withdraw later are typically taxable. With a Roth IRA, the funds you deposit are not tax deductible, but withdrawals that you make in retirement are not taxable if they meet certain qualifications. You may want to consult with a financial advisor to help you determine which option works best for your needs.

2. Address Debt

Having high-interest credit cards or loans can prohibit you from saving for the future. Using a tax return to pay down your debt may help you get caught up, according to Forbes. However, be sure to focus on loans bearing the highest interest rate — if you are currently on track with your payments, and the loan has a low interest rate, it may make more sense to allocate the money elsewhere, says Forbes.

3. Save for an Emergency

Even if you already have funds in a savings account, will it be enough if an emergency arises? You should have an emergency fund equal to at least three months’ worth of expenses saved, just in case, says The Balance. If you find that you’re behind on savings, considering depositing your tax return into your savings account. Additionally, a certificate of deposit may be a good savings option if you can find one with a higher interest rate, says U.S. News & World Report (U.S. News).

4. Start an Education Savings Fund

Another way to put your tax refund to work is to start saving for your child’s education, or even your own. A 529 savings plan may be a good place to start, says U.S. News. You will have a few different options to consider, as you can typically choose between a a prepaid tuition plan or an education savings plan, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission — and both plans may offer you some tax benefits.

Choosing how to spend your tax refund can be an important part of planning for your financial future. By considering and researching your options, you can choose how to put your refund to use in ways that work best for your lifestyle.

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