It’s easy to argue that a tax refund isn’t something to celebrate. After all, it means you overpaid your taxes the previous year and are now getting the money you were entitled to all along. But if you have an IRS payday coming your way, it pays to make the most of it.

Here’s how.

1. Build or boost your emergency fund

Having a solid emergency fund should be your primary financial goal. If you don’t have enough money in your savings account to cover three to six months of essential expenses, use your refund to get closer to that mark.

2. Pay off a credit card balance

The longer your credit card balance lingers, the more interest you might accrue on it. Also, too much credit card debt could damage your credit score. It pays to use some or all of your tax refund to whittle down your existing balance.

3. Chip away at a personal loan

If you don’t have credit card debt hanging over your head but owe money on a personal loan, your tax refund might help you shrink your balance and accelerate your payoff. The result? Less interest and stress for you.

4. Fund your retirement plan

Building a retirement nest egg is something you should aim to do throughout your career. If your employer offers a 401(k), you can deposit your refund into your checking account and then instruct your employer to deduct that much more from your paychecks. And if you have an IRA, you can use your refund to make a contribution.

5. Get a better car

If you drive to work, you need a reliable vehicle. If yours has seen better days, your tax refund could serve as a nice down payment on a replacement vehicle.

6. Fix up your home

That leaky roof you’ve been ignoring for weeks? It may really need your attention. The more you put off home repairs, the more damage might ensue. If there’s a glaring issue with your home, it pays to use your tax refund to tackle it before it gets worse.

7. Invest in a remote workspace

Some people can’t wait to get back to the office. But if you think you’ll be working remotely on a permanent basis, it pays to invest in a comfortable setup for your home. Your tax refund could be your ticket to a new desk, chair, or computer.

8. Treat yourself to something special if you’re on target to meet your financial goals

Maybe you have a fully-loaded emergency fund and no debt other than a mortgage. You might also be making great progress with retirement savings, have a newer car, and have a home that’s in good shape with a recently updated office to boot. If that’s the case, then you should feel free to spend your tax refund on something that will make you happy, benefit your health, or improve your quality of life. That could mean buying equipment for a home gym, taking a much-needed vacation, or upgrading your wardrobe.

Just because you have a tax refund coming your way this year doesn’t mean that’ll happen every year. Be sure to maximize your 2022 refund so it serves you well on a long-term basis.

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We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.Maurie Backman owns Target. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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