5 Ways to Use Your Tax Refund to Build Your Financial Future

By: Steve Kroening

Whenever you receive a tax refund, you may be tempted to rush out and spend the entire check. But before you do that, let's look at some of the best ways to use that money. You want that money to work for you, not the local retail store.

1. Give it away. Whether you give a portion or all of it, an investment in the kingdom of God will pay bigger dividends than anything else you can do with it.

2. Pay off debt. I know that's not a very fun use of it. But if most of your debt is in credit cards, you're paying 10-33% interest (most people pay over 18%). Paying these debts off can save you a lot of money down the road. You might even want to pay down on your house or car loan.

3. Invest in your own financial education. Buy some books that show you how to use your money better. Go to a conference that teaches you how to grow your business or start a business. Even consider hiring a mentor or fee-only financial planner that can help coach you through some problem areas.

4. Invest in your future (or your family's future). This might mean buying term life insurance in case you're not around to provide for your family. Or, if you've already done that, then invest in your long-term future -- retirement. Open a Roth IRA and invest the money there.

5. Prepare yourself for emergencies. Everyone needs to have some cash in a savings account "just in case." You never know when an unexpected cost will come up and wreak havoc on your budget. This is one of the biggest reasons people go into debt -- they don't have any cash to pay for the surprise bills. I recommend you have between six months and a year's worth of your salary in a savings account. This will hold you over if you lose your job or need cash for an emergency. Your tax refund will give you a big push toward that goal.

Put your tax refund to work. Don't just spend it unless you have these other areas taken care of already. You'll find the rewards are far greater. Once you've figured out what to do with this tax refund, take steps to minimize next year's refund. You never want to give the government an interest-free loan.

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