MAIN_What to do with your tax refund

Once people receive their tax refund, they immediately send their accountant their documents.

The quicker they start this process, the faster their tax refund money will come.

That’s right – once people have filled out their tax forms, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) gives back people their taxed money, which really should have been in their pocket all along.

Before you start making plans with this “bonus money”, make sure it is spent with a purpose, instead of carelessly blowing it all off.

Sure, it is exciting to receive some extra money, however, it shouldn’t be treated any differently from your standard paycheck.

Don’t get caught up in the hype of getting quick cash and spend it all at once. Instead, carefully review your personal situation. There could be other areas in your life that could use some financial assistance.

Which is why you should consider these top 9 things you should do with your tax refund.

1. Start an emergency fund

Start-emergency-fund

Emergency funds act like a financial safety net.

If you were to encounter a financial hardship like losing a job or needing to pay expensive medical bills out of the blue, your emergency fund can help you through these tough times.

Many experts advise people to have at least six to eight months’ worth of savings stored up for financial emergencies. Typically, these funds are stored in accessible interest-bearing accounts, such as an online savings account.

Although it will take some time to build up this fund, saving and putting aside even the smallest amount can benefit you in the long run.

You never know when you will need extra cash to pay for your mortgage payments or credit card bills. It would be tragic if you were left to make payments on time with limited cash available.

2. Eliminate high-interest debt

Eliminate-debt

Your tax refund can also help you pay off any high-interest debt you may have. Eliminating debt that issues a high interest rate can significantly reduce the amount you owe.

If you have a wide variety of debt, you can choose a debt to pay off that carries the highest interest rate.

Usually, people are torn between title loans, student loans, car loans or credit card debt. Either way, paying off high-interest debt can drastically help decrease the amount of debt you owe.

3. Refinance your mortgage

Refinance-mortgage

Refinancing your mortgage is a great option for homeowners who are looking to save some money on monthly mortgage payments or shorten their loan’s term.

People often refinance their mortgage because their monthly mortgage payments are too high or want to cut back and save money, so they can manage their finances more comfortably.

Depending on your loan’s terms and your personal situation, refinancing may be a more beneficial and effective strategy for you.

However, when you refinance your mortgage, you will have to pay for closing costs and other fees. This is where your tax refund comes in handy.

Use this extra money to pay for those costs and you can save thousands of dollars on your mortgage interest.

4. Make home improvements

Home-Improvement

If you already have an emergency fund started, have an adequate amount of savings and no serious amount of debt, why not make some improvements on your home?

Making small or big improvements on your home can increase your home’s overall value. Depending on how big your tax refund is can determine what kind of projects you can take on.

For example, you can update the kitchen. Nine out of 10 home improvement experts will agree that updating your kitchen will boost your home’s value up the most. Because it is the most common room of the house, the way it looks, and functions is a top priority for homeowners across the board.

Which is why updating it can benefit you in the long run. Depending on your budget, you can update the kitchen cabinets, redo the countertops or give the walls a nice, fresh coat of paint. Whichever route you take, making these updates can significantly improve your home’s value.

The bathroom is another great option to invest your tax refund into. Modern and up to date bathrooms can drastically increase your home’s value and give you more satisfaction. Just like the kitchen, the bathroom is another vital room that needs to be well maintained.

Home improvement experts say even replacing the faucet, toilet or sink counter can do just the trick. If your bathroom still has wallpaper, consider painting or adding a new wallpaper, because odds are, the one on your wall is outdated or faded.

If the inside of your home doesn’t really need any extra help, take a look outside. How is your curb appeal? If you are looking to sell your home, experts say one of the easiest ways to attract potential buyers is to update the exterior of your home.

Simply by adding some color like planting flowers, updating the numbers of your address or redoing the driveway can appeal to a larger audience and add to your home’s overall value.

Even updating the windows can help improve your home’s value. Because it is an expensive investment, your tax refund should be able to help finance the project.

Home improvement experts say that new windows can make a comfortable return on your investment. Better yet, update your windows with energy-efficient glass so you can cut back on your energy bill.

5. Create a savings account

Savings-account

Creating a savings account can be extremely useful and teach you the discipline of saving and spending money wisely. Not only will it teach you the importance of money, it can prevent you from taking on debt in the future.

First, you will need to set a budget and divide your tax refund depending on how many purchases you plan on making in the future.

By directing and saving your money for specific purposes, can help limit how much you spend.

6. Pay down your mortgage principal

Mortgage-principal

If you want to improve your home’s equity, consider using your tax refund to pay down your mortgage principal. This contribution can help improve your home’s equity, in addition to paying off your mortgage loan faster.

Depending on how much you put toward your mortgage principal will directly affect how much it will benefit you.

For instance, if you have a 30-year term, a $100,000 loan with a 4.20% interest rate and you put your tax refund of $1,500 toward your mortgage principal, you can save up to several months of payments and over thousands of dollars in interest.

This one-time contribution to your mortgage principal can drastically help shorten your loan’s term and ultimately reduce the amount you owe.

7. Fund your down payment

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On the other hand, if you are a first-time homebuyer, using this money can help contribute to your down payment.

Many first-time homebuyers have expressed that financing the down payment is one of the hardest financial obstacles they face.

Some homebuyers look for specific mortgage loans that require less than the standard 20% market value of the home. Or they receive gift money from their parents or relatives, or apply for homebuyer programs that offer financial assistance.

With the down payment being a large chunk of change needed upfront, consider using your tax refund and putting it toward your down payment.

This option can help lower the amount that comes directly out of your pocket and finance the home of your dreams.

8. Invest in business

invest-Business

Do you have an idea in mind that you wish could turn into a business?

Your tax refund can help you get a jump start on bringing this idea to life. Of course, not only one tax refund can finance the whole idea, but using it and then some could turn into a real running business.

Investing in a business that you know that will be profitable and return more than you put into it can be a strategic way to increase your income.

Depending on how small your business is, you may be eligible for tax deductions.

Small business owners are faced to finance a lot of their own. Which is why expenses that are primarily used for the company to function could be tax-deductible.

These deductible expenses are classified as something that is ordinary and necessary to make the company run smoothly. For example, if you were running a hair salon, new equipment like a hair dryer or brushes could be tax-deductible.

9. Splurge on yourself

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If you saved all year long, paid your bills on time and already have a savings account started, why not treat yourself?

It’s perfectly OK to splurge on yourself once in a while, and your tax refund could be the best opportunity to spend as you please.

Don’t get too carried away and allow yourself to spend an additional chunk of cash on a shopping spree or a trip to Paris.

Something that is more realistic and within your tax refund limit could be treating your family out to a nice dinner or finally going to that long overdue spa day.

However you may treat yourself, remind yourself to stay within your limits and don’t go overboard.

What to spend it on?

As you can see, there are many options on what you can do with your tax refund money.

If you are struggling on what you should do with this money, base it off your finances. Your overall financial situation can help determine what you should spend it on.

If you have outstanding debts, trying to start a business or planning to remodel the kitchen, your tax refund money can help fund your top priority.

You just need to mindfully analyze your situation and rank what needs to be taken care of first.