Everyone loves tax refunds. After all, who doesn’t enjoy money in the mail? All too often, though, people forget that a refund isn’t a prize, reward or gift: It’s your own hard-earned cash that was on loan to the government, and it should be spent as such.
This year, before heading to the mall with refunded cash in hand, consider a few dos and don’ts.
Don’t hit the Casino
Avoid confusing getting a refund check from the government with a stroke of luck--most people get a refund. Trying to make it grow exponentially at the blackjack table probably won’t work, and you could end up in a deep financial ditch.
Do pay Down High-Cost Debt
If you’re carrying the burden of high interest credit card debt or loans, it’s a good idea to pay down as much as possible with your tax refund. The money that would have gone to paying off the debt each month can then be set aside into a special vacation fund for later.
Don’t go on Vacation
Tax refunds usually are conveniently delivered between spring break and summer vacation. After months of the winter doldrums, it can be tempting to buy a last-minute ticket to the Caribbean. But in addition to sunburn, you risk returning home with a financial hangover.
Do Invest in the Future
If you put a tax refund into a retirement savings account such as an IRA or a 401(k) and add a decade, it may be significantly more valuable due to the returns it can earn. That’s generally far less of a gamble. Financial institutions such as First Alliance Credit Union can help you get an IRA set up.
Don’t buy a Puppy
If you’re casually staring into the irresistible puppy-dog eyes of a Goldendoodle at the mall, look away. Dogs cost an average of $875 a year on food, vet bills and miscellaneous expenses. Try not to blow the refund on something that will cost you more in the long run.
Do Finance a Needed Expense
If you are going to spend the refund money, at least use it on something that you need and have been putting off doing, such as a replacing a finicky fridge or getting a new car.
Use Your Tax Refund to get Ahead With First Alliance Credit Union
This is your year. Put your tax refund to work for you by paying down debts, financing needed expenses and investing in the future.
If you want to use your tax return most effectively, become a First Alliance Credit Union member today. You'll be able to put your money into a savings account, club accounts, health savings accounts, or even a Certificate of Deposit (CD).
Want to know more about using your tax refund wisely? Check out this video from KIMT News 3, featuring a First Alliance Credit Union employee.
Content provided by Cait Klein, NerdWallet.