5 Ways to Spend Your 2015 Tax Refund Wisely

The average tax refund so far is $2,800. How will you spend yours?

BySusanna Kim
April 14, 2015, 11:06 AM
PHOTO: There are many ways to save your tax refund.
There are many ways to save your tax refund.
Getty Images

— -- The IRS has already issued more than 77 million refunds that average more than $2,800 to people who filed early this year, according to the agency.

That raises a question: As taxpayers receive such large sums, what are the best ways to spend the money?

Greg McBride, chief financial analyst with Bankrate, offered his suggestions about how you can use your tax refund wisely this year.

1. Pad Your Emergency Fund

PHOTO: Use your tax refund to build up your emergency fund.
Use your tax refund to build up your emergency fund.
Getty Images

“Fewer than 1-in-4 Americans has an adequate emergency savings cushion that would cover six months’ worth of expenses, so the majority of Americans have some work to do in this area," McBride said.

2. Boost Retirement Savings

“If you have earned income this year, have some, or all, of your tax refund direct deposited into an IRA," he said. "This is a great way to jump-start your retirement savings.”

3. Pay Down High-Interest-Rate Debt

“Paying down a credit card balance with a 15 percent interest rate is earning a 15 percent rate of return -- tax free," he said. "In other words, a no-brainer.”

4. Save for College

PHOTO: Put your tax refund towards a 529 savings plan for college.
Put your tax refund towards a 529 savings plan for college.
Getty Images

“Have kids or grandkids? Plan to go back to school yourself at some point?" McBride asked. "Use the tax refund to open, or add to, a 529 college savings plan. The earnings on your investment are tax free when used for qualified education expenses."

5. Refinance Your Mortgage

“With mortgage rates near two-year lows, this is a great time to refinance your mortgage and lock in low rates," McBride said. "The tax refund can be used to pay closing costs so you’re not rolling those fees into the loan and increasing your balance.”

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