March 16, 2015 - 8:49am -- Anonymous

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you!  I love to think of green in the spring… the grass turning green, the trees budding green and maybe for many, a tax refund?   According to the Internal Revenue Service about 40 million tax refunds have been issued with an average refund amount of $3,120.  If you are receiving a refund have you made plans as to how you might use it?  A tax refund is a great opportunity to pay down debt, build your emergency savings fund or save for your financial goals.

Making a plan is first.  If, when the money arrives, I haven’t thought through where I might spend the money it’s very tempting to “treat” myself.  Going shopping, buying a new appliance or having weekend get-a-way might sound like something I deserve, but planning ahead to make sure that I can accomplish several goals is a better financial plan.  A thought to consider is, do I have a plan for my money so that I maintain control of it, or is my money controlling me?   If I  spend my money without knowing where it’s going or what my goals for it are, before long, it will control me as I can easily overspend or obligate tomorrow’s dollars on purchases I make today. 

Here are a few ideas to make the most of your tax refund from America Saves:

  • Use part of your refund, to pay down debt.  Pay off credit cards with high interest rates to make your money work for you.  Strive to keep you credit card debt less than 15-20 percent of your income.
  • Save for a rainy day.  Having a savings account to use as a safety net is essential.  When unexpected expenses happen, like a major car repair bill or medical emergency or other unplanned expense comes along, it can be paid without making a hardship on your regular budget.  If money is not set aside for emergencies chances are borrowing more money might be needed and increasing another payment.
  • Save for future financial goals.  What’s your savings for the future?  Whether you are planning for retirement, a vacation, travel or college finding a way to invest your money is a way to let it work for your future goals.  Write your goals on an index card and put it in your wallet.  Then every time you go to spend money, ask yourself “is spending this money helping me reach my goals?”  It’s amazing how it changes the thoughts on what we “want” and what we “need”. 

For more information on savings check out the America Saves site at http://www.americasaves.org/for-savers/make-a-plan-how-to-save-money/saving-at-tax-time

Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.