What’s the first think you will think of when you file your 2019 taxes? If you are like me, it’s REFUND. It doesn’t matter if it is a small refund or a large check you are expecting, it’s always a nice uplift to your savings or checking account at the beginning of the year.

You definitely don’t want to be one of those people that squanders away their refund check, so make sure you change your carefree spending habits and start thinking how you will be responsible with your tax refund.

It’s Time To Start Your Taxes
By now you should have received most of the forms you will need to file. Take a minute and make a plan that will allow you to pay off some of those nagging bills, self-indulge a little but still allowing yourself to meet your financial goals in 2020. What are the first steps to your plan?

• File your taxes early. The earlier you file, the quicker you get your refund.

• Always select direct deposit instead of waiting for a paper check.

• Utilize a tax service that have experts to answer all your questions.

Now that you have prioritized your financial objectives, which of these options meet your goals?

Save Your Refund
• You probably already know the importance of having an appropriate savings account, and always keep that account separate from your checking account.

• Start an emergency fund or add to the one you already have. You don’t want to rely on credit cards to bail you out of financial emergencies. The best emergency fund should cover at least three months of expenses.

• Use your refund to start saving for a down payment on a new home or condo. Even a small refund can help you attain those large goals.

Spend Your Refund
We all have bills. Use your refund to pay down some of those balances.

• Pay off some of your small balance credit cards. The more debt you take off your plate the more financial flexibility you will have. Make sure you pay off the cards with the highest interest rate first.

• Make an additional payment on your large loans like your auto or home mortgage. Make sure that payment goes towards your principal only. This will help lower your balance and could mean less interest you have to pay during the life of the loan.

Use your refund to help build your credit
• Obtaining a secured credit card is a great way to build credit. This is how it works. If you want to get a $750 limit on a credit card you can use the $750 from your tax refund or savings account as a security deposit for the card. You can still use the card to make purchases as long as you make your monthly payments on time.

• Having a pre-paid debit card is also a great alternative to cash. You can put a portion of your refund on a pre-paid debit. This will also decrease your stops at the ATM.

Enjoy Your Refund
Don’t forget that life is all about the right balance. Even though having a savings account and paying your bills are important, it’s OK to treat yourself every once in a while. Just make sure it’s not an overly expensive indulgence. So, set aside a small portion of your return to spend on the most important person, YOU. But, only spend what fits in your budget. Something as simple as taking the family out to a movie, a spa day or just a night out can feel like a real treat.

No matter how you plan to spend or save your refund, just be smart. Evaluate your financial goals, create your plan to save, spend and enjoy some of that return.