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Repurpose your Refund - 2/27/2013 -

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.

To truly take advantage of your refund with your overall finances in mind, Comeaux recommends that taxpayers consider these suggestions:

Start 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.

Pay down debt. 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.

Double-up 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.

Take 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.


 

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