Tax Hacks 2018: How Not to Blow Your Tax Refund

Your tax refund check can be an instrument of positive change, or just another wasted opportunity. Here is what you should do with it.

Uncle Sam and taxesSean Locke Photography /

Ready for a nice, fat refund check from Uncle Sam? Before you get too excited, soberly think about how easy it is to waste that money foolishly.

All too often, extra money makes people splurge, even while they imagine they’re saving it. How do you make sure this year’s windfall makes your life better over the long haul? Try these nine ways.

Idea No. 1: Pay down high-interest debt

Credit cards close up.Ti_ser /

High interest rates on your debt can lead to devastating costs. Eventually, you can end up with payments so large that it becomes difficult to do more than pay the minimum required each month.

That’s why one of the best uses for a windfall is to use it to pay down, or pay off, debts with the highest interest rates.

Think of this way: Paying off a debt with a 15 percent interest rate is like earning 15 percent, risk-free and tax-free. That’s an investment virtually impossible to find these days.

When you’ve paid down debt, don’t stop. If credit-card debt, payday loans or other high-rate debts have been a problem, use this moment to escape the cycle. Choose from trustworthy sources of free credit counseling and get help.

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