If you’re expecting a tax refund this year, now is a best time to start planning how you’ll use that extra money. The best uses are to pare down debt and bulk up your savings. For instance, you can:
1. Open an emergency fund savings account or add to your existing one. Aim to save enough to cover three to six months of expenses for those unexpected emergencies, like your car breaks down, your refrigerator dies, or you lose your job. Put your tax refund into a savings account opened specifically for these emergencies.
2. Fund your IRA. You can make up to a $5,500 contribution ($6,500 if you’re 50 or older) to a Roth or a traditional individual retirement account (IRA) for tax year 2018.
3. Open a 529 plan. If you save for your child’s college education in a 529 plan, you may get a tax deduction for your efforts. Visit SavingforCollege.com to find out more.
4. Take a class to improve your career prospects. If you think you lack certain skills to get ahead in your career, use the refund to purchase classes to learn those skills. You may be able to deduct those expenses from your taxes using the Lifetime Learning Credit.
5. Pay off debt. Use your refund to pay off any high-interest-rate credit card debt you may have. Try to pay off the debt in full so you can stop getting interest charges added to your balance every month.
6. Start a holiday club account. This account lets you save for holiday spending year-round so you don’t have to rely on credit cards in December. If your employer offers direct deposit, make saving even easier by having a set amount automatically deposited to this account.