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This year’s tax season is officially over. With tax returns recently submitted, it will only be a matter of time before you get your refund. It may be tempting to treat the refund as found money, but this is the last thing you should do. You need to use it to improve your lives for the future. These are the four smartest ways to use your tax refund this year. 

Pay Off Debt
Few things ruin your finances faster than carrying a lot of debt. You are essentially throwing away a portion of your income to pay interest on this debt. Escape your crippling debt by using your tax refund to pay it down. In order to get the most out of your money, it is best to pay down the debt with the highest interest rate first. If your debts all have similar interest rates, then pay off the smallest balance first. 

Put Into Savings
Life is extremely unpredictable. You never know when you are going to need a large sum of money to pay for an unexpected expense. This is why you should always have some money saved for emergencies. Putting your emergency fund in a savings account will allow you to make some money while it sits. Keep adding to the savings account every month to stay prepared for any financial emergency. 

Make Safe Investments
If you are in a good financial position, then investing is the smartest use for your tax refund. Keep this money protected by opting for safe investments like a 401(k) or IRA. This will only help you reach your retirement goals at an earlier age. There is even a chance that your employer will match a portion of your contribution. 

Improve Your Mental Health
Nothing is more important than your mental health. It is hard to be happy and successful when you are struggling mentally. Use a portion of the tax refund to give yourself a much-needed break. Take a few days off to get out of town and unwind. You will be amazed at how much better you feel after a short escape.