Buy a new gadget or pay off the credit card? Go on a sunny vacation or start an emergency fund? 62% of Americans are expecting to get a tax refund this year. If you are planning on receiving a refund, Tony Drake, CFP® talks with Milwaukee’s WTMJ-4 about how to revamp your refund and make your money work for you.

Buy Your Financial Freedom – Any kind of debt can stand between you and your financial freedom, especially when you’re entering retirement. That’s why it’s important to pay off debt as quickly as possible. Your tax refund is a great way to cut down your debt, if not eliminate it. Use your refund to pay down high-interest debt like credit card debt or other outstanding loans.

Get Peace of Mind – A good rule of thumb is to have 3-6 months worth of expenses saved in a separate, easily accessible account for emergencies. If you already have an emergency fund, consider using your refund to make those car or home repairs that you may have been putting off. Also, remember if you use money out of that emergency fund, you need to replace it. That way you’re prepared for the next “rainy day.”

Upgrade Your Retirement – Use the arrival of your refund as a reminder to evaluate your retirement.
Take some time and look at what you have saved for retirement, or meet with your financial professional to adjust your plan. If you participate in an employer-sponsored 401(k), save more for retirement by increasing your contributions. Consider taking your refund and putting towards other retirement accounts, like a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA.

Invest in the Future – Consider starting a 529 plan for your children or grandchildren. The opening amount can be as low as $25-$50 and anyone can contribute to it, even grandma and grandpa or your good friend! Starting this plan now will help you give the gift of college and help your loved ones avoid being part of the 44 million Americans with student debt. Click here for more information about 529 plans.

Treat Yourself – Take part of your refund and spend it on an experience or something you’ve always wanted to do, like taking a weekend away to explore somewhere new. You can invest in yourself and learn a new skill. Sign up for a cooking class you want to take – it may even save you a few bucks if you use those skills to start cooking at home more. Or you could buy yourself some time, and hire someone to clean your house or mow your lawn.

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Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance. Drake & Associates does not offer tax or legal advice.