April 15th, the day Americans file their income taxes, comes faster than we know it. If you are one of the lucky ones who will be expecting a tax refund, you want to start thinking about how you will use that money. Without some sort of plan, you may risk spending it foolishly and needlessly. Using your refund to make an investment, pay off a credit card or auto title loan balance, or making a large purchase are all ways you can use that cash wisely.
Pay Your Property Taxes- It may not be the most fun way to spend but using your refund to pay your property taxes will cause you to smile in the long run. For many homeowners it’s tough enough just to pay the mortgage let alone a twice-yearly lump sum for property taxes. There’s no getting around this bill when it comes to owning a home. Paying now with your refund will prevent you from enduring a hit to your savings or having to borrow from a credit card.
Pay Down Your Credit Card Balance – Many of us know how easy it is to rack up credit card debt and how hard it is to pay it down. With the average annual interest rate on credit cards being around 14% and a mere 1% on a savings account, it’s obvious that paying down that balance on your Visa or department store card is wise if you plan on getting out of debt altogether. Keep in mind, retailers capitalize on the fact that consumers will soon have their pockets padded with that all too welcome check from the government by offering promotions and special sales in April. Don’t cave in by cashing that check and hitting the stores. Instead, use that check to free yourself of the debt that may be keeping you in financial bondage.
Pay Off Your Auto Title Loan – Auto title loans are there for consumers who are in need of fast cash in an amount larger than a payday or cash advance loan. These short-term loans can be hard to pay off though with loan amounts of up to $5000 that carry high interest rates and fees. Paying off your auto title loan will inevitably save you a great deal of money that would otherwise be spent on interest. It will also save you from the possibility of having your car repossessed should you not be able to make your payments and fulfill your loan obligation. Auto title loan lenders will work with you to make payment arrangements but this could cause a short-term loan to become a long-term financial burden.
Start Saving or College – Whether your saving for your children, or dream of going back to school one day, you can use your refund to get a jump-start on one of the best long-term investments you’ll ever make. The cost of college continues to rise but with a College 529 Savings Account, you can benefit from a tax-deferred investment for your child’s future education costs that will pay for tuition, room and board, books and other fees that are incurred during the college years.
Create an Emergency Fund – This idea is not the first to come to many consumers’ minds when that refund check comes in the mail but it may very well be one of the smartest. For many Americans today, a savings account is not part of their budget. When it comes to a major car repair, surprise trip to the dentist or other emergency expense, many of us are not prepared.
Having peace of mind when it comes to our money means planning ahead for life’s financial curve balls. Starting a “rainy day” savings account with your tax refund will ensure you have something to rely on when your wallet is stretched. You can’t put a price on financial peace but having a cash reserve will ensure you some sort of harmony in your finances.