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Tax refund time! What you should and should not do with it

Posted at 9:43 PM, Apr 10, 2017
Some people just can't wait. They know the spring season means money from Uncle Sam.  
 
"The majority of us consumers, we've already spent it before we have the money," Ben Belanger, of Belanger and Associates of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc., said.
 
From new TVs to used cars, even furniture, retailers know it too and even target consumers with promotions to get your refund.
 
Here are fives do's or don'ts when it comes to spending that money wisely:
 
DO PAY OFF HIGH-INTEREST DEBT
Pay off that debt so it doesn't continue to grow. That's money back in your pocket every month you're not paying interest. Really, the credit card companies don't need more of your hard earned money, right?
 
DO INVEST IT
"If you don't immediately need the money from your tax refund, investing is ideal," Belanger said. 
Belanger said the average tax return of $3000 invested at a 5 percent annual rate of return would look something like this:
 
10 years:$4,887
15 years:$6,200
20 years:$7,900
25 years:$10,150
 
DO START YOUR EMERGENCY FUND
Your car breaks down, you lose your job, someone in the family gets sick? "It's important to have an emergency fund. If an unexpected expense presents itself, you are prepared and don't accrue debt," he said.
 
DON'T SPEND IT ALL
If you just can't help yourself, you can compromise. "If you have something you have been wanting or needing go ahead and purchase it, but make sure it doesn't cost the entire amount of your tax return. Only spend what is left over after replenishing your emergency fund and investing or saving a portion," Belanger said.
 
DON'T COUNT ON IT
Again, know how much you're getting before you know where it's going. The last thing you want to do is charge something, only to find out you'll have to pay on it for the next year or more because your refund was less than expected.
 
The deadline to file this year is April 18.