What your tax return for 2013 can do for you
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By Ken Weise  March 14, 2014 12:00 am

Is a tax refund coming your way? If you have already received your refund for the 2013 tax year or are about to receive it, you might want to think about the destiny of that money. The following are some possibilities.

• Start (or add to) an emergency fund: Many people don’t have a dedicated rainy day fund, only the presumption that they might have enough cash in case of a financial tight spot.

 

• Invest in yourself: You could put the money toward education, career training, personal improvement or some sort of personal experience with the potential to enhance your life.

 

• Use it for a down payment on a car or truck or real property: Real property represents the better financial choice, but updating your vehicle may have merit – cars do wear out, and while a truck also ages, it can help you make money.

 

• Put it into an IRA or workplace retirement account: If you haven’t maxed out your IRA this year or have a chance to get an employer match, why not?

 

• Help your child open up a Roth IRA: If your under-18 son or daughter will earn income this year, he or she can open a Roth IRA. Your child’s contribution limit is $5,500 or the amount of his or her earned income for 2014 (whichever is lower). You can actually make this Roth IRA contribution with your own money if your child has spent his or her earnings.

 

• Buy some warehouse memberships: If you have a large family or own a small service business, why not sign up to save regularly?

 

• Pay down debt: Always a smart choice.

 

• Establish a financial strategy: Some financial professionals work on a fee-only basis. If your tax refund is substantial, it could pay some or all the fee that might be charged for a review of your current financial situation and a plan for the future, with no further obligation to you.   

 

• Pay for that trip in advance: Instead of racking up a bigger credit card bill, consider pre-paying some costs or taking an all-inclusive trip (some are not as pricey as you might think).

 

• Get your home ready for the market: A four-figure refund may give you the cash to spruce up the yard and/or exterior of your residence. Or, it could help you pay a professional who can assist you with staging it.

 

• Improve your home with energy-saving appliances: Or windows, or weather stripping, or solar panels – just to name a few options.

 

• Create your own food bank: What if a hurricane or an earthquake hits? Where would your food and water come from? Worth thinking about.

 

• Write a proper will: Your refund could pay the attorney fee, and the will you create might end up more ironclad.

 

• See a doctor, optometrist, dentist or physical therapist: If you haven’t been able to see these professionals due to your insurance situation or your personal cash flow, the refund might provide a way.

 

• Give yourself a de facto raise: Adjust your withholding to boost your take-home pay.

 

• Pick up some more insurance coverage for cheap: More and more affordable options exist for insuring yourself, your business and your property. 

 

• Pay it forward: Your refund could turn into a charitable contribution (deductible on your federal tax return if you itemize deductions). 

 

Last year, the average federal tax refund was $2,744. That’s a nice chunk of change – and it could be used to bring some positive change to your financial life and the lives of others.

 

Ken Weise, an LPL Financial Advisor, provided this article. He can be reached at 707-584-6690. Securities offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC. The opinions of this material are for information purposes only.

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