1.) Pay Off Any Debt. Don’t use the whole refund for this. Save a bit for your savings account. Chances are you got into debt because there was no safety net. If you have student loans, pay off some of them as well. Even though it’s considered good debt and the rates are low, why not get lower your liabilities and focus on raise your assets?
2.) Create a Downpayment Fund. If you don’t own your own home, start a downpayment fund or add to your existing one.
3.) Add to Your ROTH IRA. If you don’t have one open and don’t have the $2,500 minimum needed for most mutual funds, you can open one for just $75 per month at T. Rowe Price. You do have to commit to contributing to it automatically every month. Start with their Balanced Fund.
4.) Beef Up Your Rainy Day Fund. Do you have 6 months of expenses saved? I’m still a huge fan of ingdirect.com.
5.) Buy a Personal Finance Book. I am as tech savvy as they come. I have my apps, ipad, ebooks and blackberry. But I still like flipping through my paper books, dog earing favorite pages and referring to favorite chapters. My favorites these days are “I will Teach You to be Rich” by Ramit Sethi, “Get Financially Naked” by Manisha Thakor and of course “My Money Matters” kit by Galia Gichon.
6.) Add an Extra Payment to your Mortgage. On a $250,000 30-year mortgage with a 5% interest rate, paying down an extra mortgage payment a year will shorten your mortgage by 5 years and save you almost $ 41,000 in interest!
7.) Donate to your Favorite Charity. The charities reach out the most at year end but they need donations all year long and you still get the tax deduction whenever you donate.
8.) Invest in Your Career. If you know that your career needs a boost, this is the time to pay for learning education classes, additional training or another degree.
9.) Contribute to a 529 College Fund. Today, the average price of college is $12,000 for a public university and $35,000 for a private one. What will it cost when your little one is ready for college?
10.) Do Something You Haven’t Done Before. Take a watercolor class or if you are more daring, a race car driving class!
11.) Treat Yourself. If you are doing some of the empowering action steps above, you deserve a little treat. Spend it frivolously.