So far this year, about 40 million tax refunds have been issued with an average refund amount of $3,120; according to the Internal Revenue Service. Carefully consider how your refund might be used, said Laura Connerly, assistant professor for family and consumer economics with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

“It’s easy to go on a shopping spree or buy something you’ve wanted all year long,” Connerly said. “Before giving in to unnecessary spending, make sure you are is a good financial situation. A tax refund is a great opportunity to pay down debt, build your emergency savings fund, or save toward a financial goal.”

Make the most of a tax refund by following these tips from America Saves:

  • Pay down your debt. Use your refund for some much needed debt relief. Pay off your credit card balance.
  • Save for a rainy day. It's always helpful to have a savings account to draw from when a major car repair bill, medical emergency or other unexpected expense comes along.
  • That way, you don't have to borrow money and add to your debt-load.
  • Save for future financial goals. Give yourself an even bigger return on your tax refund by putting the money into a savings account, CD, or retirement fund. Your tax refund will continue to grow if you put it into savings or invest the money.

More information on saving at tax time from America Saves at http://www.americasaves.org/for-savers/make-a-plan-how-to-save-money/saving-at-tax-time.

Learn more about personal finance at www.uaex.edu.  The Cooperative Extension Service has the latest research-based recommendations on money management to help improve your financial stability.