Some great uses for a tax refund

(Assuming you’re fortunate enough to have one) If there’s a refund check coming, it’s a great opportunity to bolster your personal balance sheet. The typical refund is usually around $3,000, and most people receive their money within three weeks of filing their returns. Here are some great ways to stay ahead of the game:

• Boost retirement savings – You can contribute up to $5,500 to a Roth IRA for 2017 (or $6,500 if 50 or older) — and withdraw the money tax-free in retirement. You can contribute the full $5,500 as long as your income falls below $118,000 if single, and $186,000 if married filing jointly.

• Fund a taxable account – Buy shares in a mutual fund or stock, but you may have felt too risky for an IRA or not available in a 401(k) plan.

• Pay off that credit-card debt – If your card is charging 18%, it’s like earning 18% on investments.

• Rebuild your emergency fund – three to six months of expenses is a good rule of thumb.

• Build college savings – It’s never too early to start for your kids – or even yourself. Perfect opportunity for a 529 account. You will be able to use the money tax-free for college bills, and you could get a state income-tax deduction for your contribution.

• You can help your kids save – contribute to a Roth IRA for them. The kids are eligible as long as they’ve had earned income, such as from mowing yards or babysitting.

• Prepay a vacation – or put away for holiday gift-giving or other short-term goals.

• Invest in your home or home business – great for smaller projects.

• Plug gaps in insurance – Consider liability insurance and perhaps upgrading home insurance before Spring storms start…or buy a home generator!

• Give to others in need – you’ll feel good about it and have a tax deduction for next year!