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Weekend: Use tax refund wisely to get the most from your money

By AMY M. CARLES
It will soon be time to start thinking about your taxes. Are you one of the approximately 75 percent of individual taxpayers expecting a refund?
If so, you want to get the most for your money. While it may be tempting to spend the money on wants rather than needs, your refund can serve as a foundation to grow savings.
If you just let the money sit in your checking account, it may quickly vanish, and you may not be sure where it went. Then you will have nothing to show for your refund.
There are many ways that you can put the refund to good use. Give the money a purpose.
Have you gotten behind on your bills? If so, use your return to get the account up to date.
Reduce your debt by paying off credit card balances, or by reducing other loans, such as student or car loans. Powerpay.org can help prioritize which debt should be paid first.
Make an extra payment or two on your mortgage to shorten the length of your home loan. Boost your retirement funds by adding to or starting an IRA account.
Saving for a rainy day can help increase your tax refund for next year, and can provide a much needed cushion in case of an emergency. This way you can avoid adding debt to take care of emergencies, such as a major car repair bill or a medical emergency.
Think about your financial goals. Are you trying to save for a down payment for a car or a house?
Do you have college tuition to think about? Consider applying your tax refund toward these goals.
If you have not set short-term and long-term financial goals, now is a good time to start. This helps you to be more conscientious about spending your refund or any other extra money that comes your way.
You work hard for your money, and deserve to enjoy a healthy financial lifestyle. Put some thought into how you use your tax refund.
Making smart financial decisions is not always easy, but it will definitely be beneficial over the long term. If you need help finding ways to save, visit www.hancocksaves.org.
Carles, with The Ohio State University Extension, is program coordinator for Hancock Saves.

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