Tax season is here, and if you are one of
the lucky ones, you may get a tax refund this year. Whether you’ve already
received it or are eagerly awaiting it, it’s tempting to view this refund as "free money,” but keep in mind, this is
really just your money that the government is returning, so you should not
necessarily treat it as a windfall, according to Christa Comeaux, assistant
vice president with Lakeside Bank.
"Many people get their money and immediately spend it all on a
shopping spree or vacation, without stopping to think about how wiser financial
choices could be turned into many more shopping sprees and vacations in their
future,” Comeaux says.
take advantage of your refund with your overall finances in mind, Comeaux
recommends that taxpayers consider these suggestions:
a rainy day fund for emergencies. Ideally, you would have three to six
months’ worth of expenses saved, just in case you or your spouse face an
unexpected crisis, such as losing a job. Rainy day funds also come in handy for
large, unplanned expenses. Once you start it, try to contribute a portion of
your income every month. It doesn’t take much to bulk up a savings account,
especially with a hefty head start that a refund can provide.
Use your tax refund to take care of any bills you are behind on paying. This is a wise choice any time you have extra
money and outstanding debt. Paying
down credit card debt is one of the best
ways to improve your credit score.
on your mortgage payment. Extra payments reduce the longevity of the loan and
ultimately save you money. Just one extra payment each year could reduce the
life of the loan by up to six years in for most loans.
care of the things you’ve been putting off. If you’ve been delaying repairs or
purchases, such as new tires, servicing your car, upgrading appliances or
starting a college fund due to lack of finances, this is a great way to use
your tax refund .
Invest. Just like starting a rainy day fund, investing
your tax refund may not provide any immediate reward but can help you be
financially prepared for the future.
"There are numerous
ways that consumers can use their refund to its fullest potential. Some are
practical and some are not-so-practical. It’s ultimately up to the consumer to
decide what to do with their refund money,” Comeaux says. "There’s certainly
nothing wrong with doing something
for yourself, but as you make plans for this money, keep your bigger financial
picture in mind.”
For more information on managing your money, call
Lakeside Bank at (337) 474-3766 or visit www.LakesideBank.com.