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How to make your tax refund count

It's tax time, and for a large number of Americans that means a nice refund check. The average tax refund check is around $3,000. Rather than frivolously spending this money, many Floridians are making wise choices with their refunds that can help them avoid future financial challenges. Here are a few options to make your tax refund count:

Pay down credit card debt. The average tax refund check can help consumers pay off as much as one third of their credit card debt or other loans. Paying down debt with a nice chunk of cash has many benefits, including reduced interest, a smaller monthly payment, and a higher credit score.

Put the money into savings. Keeping several months' worth of money in a savings account will go a long way toward giving you peace of mind and protection in the event of an emergency. Unforeseen circumstances, such as unemployment, medical emergencies, or car problems, can occur at any time. It helps when you can take care of all or a portion of those expenses with emergency savings.

Invest in the future. Use some of the money for your own training or college classes, or to start a business, set up a college savings plan for the kids, or save for your retirement.

Invest in your home or vehicle. Take advantage of the benefits of refinancing your home and use the tax return for the related fees. Invest in home improvements, or take care of needed car repairs and maintenance expenses.

When you use your tax return wisely, don't think of it as being unable to spend some fun money. By using the money to pay down debt or take care of other expenses you can't afford throughout the year, you free up additional money from month to month.

Source: WFLX.com, "Use your tax refund wisely," Andrew Housser, Mar. 4, 2013

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