Roughly seven out of 10 U.S. filers will receive a tax refund with the average amount reaching around $2,800, according to the most recent IRS data. That's a significant amount of money that can be put toward a variety of financial goals. If you are one of the millions of Americans expecting a tax refund this year, you might be wondering how to spend it.
Although it's tempting to blow it all on a trip to the mall or on a night out on the town, your tax refund is an opportunity to do something smart with your money. The following are nine brilliant ways you can spend your 2014 tax refund.
1. Invest It
From buying stocks to putting money away in a college fund, there are several ways you can invest your tax refund. For example, you can use your tax refund to invest in a business, pay next year's taxes, and more.
2. Open a 529 Plan
Andrew Schrage of Money Crashers told GOBankingRates last year, "Lots of people put off starting a 529 savings account or an IRA for a child because they think they can't afford it. Using a tax refund to do so is one way to get around that obstacle."
A 529 Plan is a savings plan that helps families pay for college. With this plan, you can also qualify for special tax benefits because your earnings are not subjected to federal (or state) tax. In other words, the distributions are tax free. If saving for your child's education falls far down on you priority list of monthly expenses, use your tax refund to start building a college education fund.
3. Give your home a facelift.
Tax refunds can vary. Luckily, it can require very little money to give your home's value a major boost. Here are some inexpensive but major ways you can easily liven up your living space:
Under $100: Give your interior rooms a fresh coat of paint.
Under $200: Replace your old kitchen and bathroom fixtures with shiny, new ones.
Under $300: Replace the lighting in dark spaces with bright and efficient light fixtures.
Under $400: Replace bathroom laminate floors with tile.
Under $700: Add major curb appeal with fresh outdoor landscaping.
4. Pad your emergency fund
If you are one of the 60% of Americans who are financially unprepared for an emergency, then this might be one of the first things you should do with your tax refund. Many experts recommend saving at least six months' worth of living expenses, which can seem like a daunting goal. Putting your tax refund right into an emergency fund can give your savings a major boost without requiring a lot of effort. Plus, it can give you some much-needed peace of mind.
5. Fund your retirement
If you are late to the retirement savings game, contribute your 2014 tax refund to an IRA. Not only will contributing to an IRA help you see significant savings on your 2015 taxes, but you'll also be making significant strides toward your retirement goals.
If you are in a low tax bracket now, you can also consider contributing to a Roth IRA. You won't see the same savings on your 2015 taxes, but you won't be taxed when you withdraw the funds during retirement.
6. Pay down debt
Whether you use the debt snowball or debt avalanche method, using your tax refund to help pay down debt can remove a huge weight off your shoulders and save you tons in additional interest. It can also help you increase your net worth and improve your cash flow, which will help you reach other important financial goals, like a vacation.
7. Donate to charity
Making a donation to charity is a great way to serve others, give to those in need and improve your own sense of self. And there just so happens to be the benefit of a possible tax benefit as well. Donations to qualifying charities are tax deductible, which can help you save more on next year's taxes.
If you're already a super saver, you don't have any debt and you feel confident with your investments, then go ahead and splurge — you deserve it. Just like we all need an extra cookie or slice of pizza every once in a while, treating yourself to a spending splurge can give you some relief from living on a budget. Just make sure you don't go overboard.
9. Buy a car
Do you have your eyes on a new car that you've been dying to buy? If so, then use your tax refund to put a down payment on the car of your dreams. Currently, auto loan interest rates are low, but they are expected to rise later this year. Now is the time to get a good deal on an auto loan.
This article originally appeared on gobankingrates.com.
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