By James Lander, Military Saves Director
Tax time is one of the few opportunities when households receive a sizable amount of money – especially if they are able to take advantage of the earned-income tax credit. While it may be tempting to spend that money on wants vs. needs, saving your tax refund can protect you from needing to turn to payday loans or high-cost credit later in the year, and can serve as the foundation to grow your savings.
Here are four ways to get the most value from your tax refund next year:
1. Use your refund for some much needed debt relief. Pay off your credit card balance. Alternatively, you can apply your refund toward other debts, like a car loan or a home equity loan.
2. Why not give yourself an even bigger return on your tax refund by putting the money into a share or savings account? It's always helpful to have a savings account to draw from when a major car repair bill, medical emergency or other unexpected expense comes along. That way, you don't have to borrow money and add to your debt-load.
3. Trying to save for a house or car down payment? Hope to contribute to your child's college tuition? Consider applying your tax refund toward these goals. If you don't yet have a set of short-term and long-term financial goals, put one together. You'll be more conscientious about how you spend your refund or any other extra money that comes your way.
4. This year, instead of taking your refund as one check or direct deposit, use IRS Form 8888 to "split" your refund. All you need is your savings account information OR you can decide to order a U.S. Savings Bond for yourself or someone else (no account information needed!). Learn more at https://www.saveyourrefund.com/
Remember, you work hard for your money and you deserve to enjoy a healthy financial lifestyle. Put some thought into how you use your tax refund. Making smart financial decisions is not always easy, but it will definitely benefit you and your family over the long term.
Need help finding ways to save? Take the Military Saves pledge to make a commitment to yourself to save and receive emails and/or text messages to keep you motivated.
Military Saves, managed by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America (CFA), seeks to motivate, encourage, and support low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth. Learn more at militarysaves.org Americans