(BPT) - The average tax refund in 2015 was approximately $2,800 according to the IRS, and similar refunds are expected in 2016. For those getting a refund, there are many options to consider in deciding what to do with this unexpected income. The big question is what is the smartest option?
While you may want to splurge with your refund, careful management for the majority of the funds is a smart financial move. A tax refund or any unexpected income can be used to help reach your financial goals without impacting your current standard of living.
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) suggests three things to consider for this year's tax refund:
1. Pay down debt. Take a look at your current debt. Find out which have the highest interest rates and consider paying those down first to help prevent interest from continuing to add up. Another common strategy is to pay off your smallest debt first, then work your way up to the larger ones.
2. Build an emergency fund. Consider using at least a portion of your tax refund to give your emergency fund a boost. Make a goal to stash away three to six months' worth of expenses in cash in an emergency fund you can easily access if you need to, such as a savings account, and use your refund to work toward that goal.
3. Pay the future forward. The positive news is that Americans are living longer. The challenge is that their health may change with aging, and people are now faced with saving for a retirement period of up to 30 years. So if you haven't started to save or want to boost your retirement savings, consider putting your refund in a retirement savings plan. You may also consider taking a portion of your refund for higher education - whether for yourself, a child or grandchild. Or, if you haven't considered life insurance or disability income insurance yet or need to revisit your plans, now's a good time to talk to a financial professional.
A tax refund is money you've worked hard for, and it is OK to do something fun with it. Just make sure you consider committing at least a portion toward your short-term and long-term financial needs and goals.
To learn more about establishing healthy financial goals or to locate a financial professional near you, visit massmutual.com.
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