03/03/2014

It’s tax season and time to get your paperwork ready for the IRS and think about what you will do if you receive a refund.

For those who qualify for earned income and child care tax credits, that refund could be significant. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, sites are now open and employ tax preparers who will help you get the most out of your return, while saving you hundreds of dollars in tax preparation fees.

If you are going to receive a refund, have you thought about what you will do with that money?


You’ll want to make good decisions, so you can reduce financial stress brought on by living paycheck to paycheck. Taking a vacation or buying the newest technology might be a tempting use of your refund, but look at your long-term goals.

If you’re renting a home, saving some or all of your refund to put toward a future down payment on a home might be a good idea.

Home ownership does not have to be out of reach if you are able to save money and pay your bills on time.

Or, if you have debt that’s keeping your credit score lower than it needs to be, you might want to consider paying off some debt so your credit rating can begin to improve. This, too, will open some doors in the future.


Would it make sense to invest in some classes to improve your work skills and put you in line for a promotion or better-paying job? Do you have a car loan that needs to be paid off?

If you’re able to pay off a debt, put the money that was going to the monthly payment in your savings account. Better yet, automate the transfer so you don’t even have to think about it.

Do you have an emergency fund? More than half of us don’t, but getting on top of this will make you better prepared for a car repair or other unexpected cost that is bound to come along.

Tax season is a great time to discuss family financial goals with your significant other and older children. Your tax refund might just be the boost you need to stabilize your finances, so take that opportunity.

A colleague of mine had a good plan for her tax refund every year. She saved a third, spent a third on a family goal and was more frivolous with the final third.


Whatever you do, be conscious of your goals and use your refund to make your life a little more secure!