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Four Things to Do With Your Tax Refund

Question: My accountant just finished my taxes and I’m getting back $3,000. What’s the best place to invest this money now?

Answer: That depends. Do you want to blow it on stuff you don’t need like a George Bush Bowl Buddy Toilet Brush, a Hillary Clinton Pez Dispenser, or a Barack Obama Talking Action Figure doll (I’m not making this up folks)? Or do you really want to use it to benefit yourself financially? Assuming it’s the latter (and I hope it’s the latter), here are four more things you could invest in.

An Emergency Fund: Consider adding some or all of these monies to your own slush fund. Given the uncertainty of the economy and jobs nowadays, you should always try to maintain at least 6-12 months worth of living expenses in a savings account, money market account or CD in case of an emergency.

Pay Down Your Credit Card Debt: Consider applying this money to any outstanding debt you have such as credit cards. Eliminating that pesky balance that never seems to disappear could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in interest over your lifetime.

Fund an IRA: If you have some years before you retire, consider starting or investing the money in a Roth IRA. Any earnings grow tax deferred inside the Roth IRA and distributions are tax-free when you take money out. Check with your tax preparer for distribution rules and regulations please.

Reward Yourself: When was the last time you took a vacation or did something nice for yourself? If you have to think abut it, it’s been too long. Book a trip or weekend getaway. Get a massage or spa treatment. You deserve it!

Bill’s Bottom Line: Meet with your employer and adjust your tax withholdings for next year. A tax refund is simply an overpayment of taxes to the government.

Bill Losey, CFP®, CSA, America's Retirement Strategist®, is the resident retirement planning expert for On the Money. He has been named one of America’s Top Financial Planners and is the author of Retire in a Weekend!. The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Making Work Optional. He also publishes Retirement Intelligence, a free weekly award-winning newsletter. Bill can be reached online at MyRetirementSuccess.com.