Financial Fitness

Tips On How To Use Your Tax Refund Wisely

statue of liberty printed image on tax refund check

Tax season is nearly over! Can I get a whoot whoot? If you paid taxes this year and feel like a refund is coming your way, here are a few smart tips on how to use your tax refund wisely.

Hopefully you don’t owe Uncle Sam anymore of your hard-earned money. If you do, work with the IRS to come up with a payment plan that works for you. If you happened to loan your money to the government over the past year and are receiving a refund, here is one word you’ll need to remember when it comes time to figure out what to do with your refund: Prioritize.

While your first thought might be to spend all of your refund…don’t! Here are a few tips on how to better use that money:

Pay Down Your Debt. I can’t even start to tell you how important it is to get out from under the weight of financial debt. I made a few bad financial decisions in my 20’s that I’m still feeling in my 30’s, and I’ll tell you, even the smallest of refunds can help. Whether it be reducing balances on your credit cards, car loan, or student loan; applying a sizable chuck (or all) of your tax refund to paying down your debts will pay off in the long run.

If after applying your refund to your credit card debt isn’t enough, consider transferring your balances to a low-rate Unitus Platinum Rewards Visa® Card or consider looking into a personal loan. Feel free to contact us for details.

Increase Your Emergency Fund. Typically you’ll want to have at least three to six months of savings to protect yourself from the unexpected. This can include illness, time off work, your vehicle breaking down, etc. Without this financial cushion you could find yourself in a bad spot if and when something happens. A recent survey by the Pew Charitable Trusts indicated that 63% of Americans don’t have enough savings set aside to cover a $500 emergency. So ask yourself, do you have enough in your emergency fund? Could my tax refund help? You bet it can.

Invest in Yourself. It’s never too late to go back to school, take that yoga class you’ve been putting off, learn to speak a new language or even a musical instrument. The possibilities are endless when it comes to bettering yourself. You never know where it could lead you—a healthier life or perhaps a new career.

Investments Anyone? If you have ever wanted to dabble in investments in an effort to increase your savings, now might be the time to move forward with your tax refund in hand. Typically a three- to four-figure tax refund is plenty to get you started with mutual funds, a high-rate savings account or a money market. These can help build wealth for future life events such as: retirement, paying for college, purchasing a home, having a baby, traveling abroad, etc. To learn more, visit our partner MEMBERS Financial Services as they can create a personal blueprint to help you achieve your financial goals.

If investing in the stock market is more to your liking, opening a low-fee online brokerage account might also serve your financial goals. Most have a low account minimum to get started…a perfect use for your tax refund. Here are a few of the best online brokerage accounts for 2017 from our friends at NerdWallet.

Spend a Little on Yourself. Okay, okay, I couldn’t write an entire blog post without saying you can’t spend a little of your refund on yourself—it is your money after all. Think of something that isn’t terribly expensive and splurge a little. Maybe it is dinner with your significant other or friends. Maybe, just maybe now that the Blazers have cracked the 8th spot in the West you can grab a pair of tickets for the upcoming NBA Playoffs. Whatever you decide, just be sure to put the rest toward something that will benefit your financial well-being down the road.

I hope this has helped you to determine smart ways to use your tax refund. Remember, if you are receiving too big of a tax refund you might consider revisiting your withholdings on your W-4. After all, that money could be coming back to you in the form of a larger paycheck every few weeks. Be sure to talk with a tax professional before making adjustments.

 

Posted by: Ryan Jones

About the author: Ryan has been in the credit union industry for 12 years and has been with Unitus Community Credit Union since 2007. He started his credit union career in California before finding his way to Oregon. In his day job Ryan oversees and manages digital strategy for Unitus including; website, social media, email, digital advertising, and more. However when the work whistle blows he is all about his family. Ryan and his wife moved to Oregon in 2006 from northern California and have two children.

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