Financial Puzzle

Spending Your Tax Refund

Fifty four percent of Americans are heading towards a tax refund. The average amount? $3,120!

"So, what have you decided? Guilt-free dinners for a while, a new tattoo, investments, debt?"

If you’re one of these people, great! I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this is the prime time to improve your finances.

So, what have you decided? Guilt-free dinners for a while, a new tattoo, investments, debt?

How about a more general response: Not sure. Well, neither was I, but I’m about to see my first large return, so I looked into it. Honestly, I now think that some conventional wisdom is wrong. Having researched and talked with co-workers, I wanted to share a couple new perspectives.

Emergency Fund

There’s also the argument for credit cards. If you carry credit card debt, it tends to make more sense to pay those off first. That way you stop paying interest. If you do run into an emergency, well you can remobilize that money if necessary. At least you stop the interest bleeding.

Besides, where did the power of positive thinking go? Let’s not prepare for the worst and think things will go wrong, let’s be more diligent about how and what we spend our money on and save up this year.


Investing allows you the chance to make more money on top of that big year-end check. Even if you don’t have much experience, practice and a little research can make a savvy investor and hopefully give you bit of extra income. If you’re interested, here is a quick way to get in!

Alternatively, try funding your retirement plan. It’s never a bad idea, no matter your age. You don’t want to look back and have regret of the money you didn’t invest.

It’s not my thing, but I’ve had people throw out education funds and it makes sense. Those who have children probably want to start planning now. Invest in your child’s retirement or set up a 529 education fund. Help them afford higher education and give them a base for retirement.

"Career improvement can happen and they tend to pay off possibly beyond what the stock market can do"


This might as well be in the investment category, but it often goes ignored at tax time. Put your money into yourself; improve your skills and knowledge. Career improvement can happen and they tend to pay off possibly beyond what the stock market can do. Take a college course, subscribe to online courses, or get a new certificate. We should never stop learning. I’m taking a course on video editing and video production. Not only does this open my career options, it could lead to a higher salary or promotion—something that will have an annual return for the rest of my life.

The tax return you receive is your hard earned money, put it to use. Let me know if I missed anything or a great way you used your tax refund!

About Colin

ACU LogoI’m Colin McCabe, the newest Communications Specialist at Arapahoe CU. A recent college graduate from Colorado State University, I carry a background in writing and communications. I joined the team here with minimal experience in the banking industry, but this has presented a unique opportunity. Working at Arapahoe CU is complete immersion into personal finance, something that’s foreign to me. Luckily, I am surrounded by financial experts working for a not-for-profit. They provide stories, experience, resources and tools. Combining communications skills with my ever growing financial knowledge, I’m here to share perspective, work and the resources surrounding me. The Financial Puzzle was created for this reason.

Of course, my path towards financial success is just one of many and the credit union is here to help all. If there is an issue or topic you are interested in, let me know! I will get the staff working on your answer and help you avoid the inaccuracies laden in the internet’s search results.

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