Here’s What Americans Do With Their Tax Refunds

It’s finally springtime, and with it comes excitement and anticipation of warmer weather, longer days, and also tax refunds for many. Having a cash windfall is always a good thing, but the way we spend it isn’t always ideal.

Here is a look at some smart ways to spend whatever amount you get back from Uncle Sam:

  1. Pay down credit card debt – The average American has over $6000 in credit card debt. What is the best way to attack this monster? Pay off your smallest cards first, then your larger balances. Also, consolidate your debt when possible to simplify the process. Once this is done, make sure you stop the unnecessary spending cycle. Finally, make sure you pay your cards off in full and on time each month.
  2. Keep a six-month emergency fund – According to, 57 million Americans have no savings at all. How do you fix this? Set up a direct deposit into a dedicated savings account. That way your money is put away without any thought on your part, helping remove the temptation of spending the money instead.
  3. If you’ve been saving all year, splurge – Only 1 in 10 Americans plan to splurge or make a major purchase, and only 5% said the money would go towards saving for a vacation. If you are one who has been disciplined day in and day out, treat yourself – you’ve earned it.
  4. Make a contribution to an IRA or 529 Plan – Saving for college or retirement is usually thought of as a long-term process, and it is. But what if you could supplement your periodic savings contributions with a one-time lump-sum amount that could jump start or accelerate your goals? Putting your return toward these goals will go a long way towards accomplishing that.

Bottom line, make sure you have a plan to spend your money before you receive it. There is no right or wrong way to spend your money, but there are ways you can spend it that can better set you up for success. Take some of the advice listed above and combine it with some of your own ideas to come up with a spending plan that satisfies your needs and goals.


About cozbycpa

Heather L. Cozby is a CPA on the South Shore and Cape Cod. The managing partner of Cozby & Company, LLC, Heather has the resources and experience necessary to provide quality professional services on a timely basis and at a reasonable cost. She specializes in tax planning & preparation; audit, review & compilation services; management advisory services; bookkeeping; and accounting. Her unique niche is in working with homeowners’ associations and condominium trusts, advising with rental real estate, and providing outsourced financial consulting for mid-sized companies. She is more entrepreneurial than most accountants, and offers the best of both worlds - providing the services of a larger firm while retaining the ability to connect with her clients on a personal level.
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