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People oftentimes rationalize the idea: “I work hard I deserve something nice”. I’m not faulting anyone for that, but I just want to introduce the concept of thinking forward.  I am no one’s Financial advisor, CPA or Financial Broker. I do not have a certification in this regard, but what I do have is COMMON SENSE and my “Miss Cleo” intuition is telling me that somebody out there is going to mispimp and spend up all of their Income tax refund on nonsense. Here are my top 10 suggestions on ways to optimize this extra income. Remember, you have to do something different to get different results. If you’ve historically gotten your $3,000 tax refund on one day and are broke 30 days later, it’s safe to say it’s time to try something different. Check out ideas below:

1.       Pay down your credit cards.
2.       Make payment arrangements on any outstanding marks on your credit report.
3.       Pre-pay at least one car note. Any amount you pay ahead of time can help cut down on interest.
4.       Pay maybe one month’s rent or mortgage up. This would give you a little safety during hard times.
5.       Get an IRA savings for YOURSELF (or start with a checking account if you don’t have one).
6.       Open  a 529 plan FOR THE KIDS! ( that’s a college savings plan for the future)
7.       Start a Business! Invest into yourself and future earnings! It doesn’t take a lot of money to start up a small side business; I’m actually going through the process myself. Quit telling yourself I don’t have the resources to do it. Put down those Jordan’s and head over to the Small Business Administration immediately after getting your money.

8.       Upgrade your work wardrobe. Not your CLUB gear (although if you must…) But when you look good, you feel good, and may just do a better job at work (and get that raise). Real talk, employers take notice to how you carry yourself, including how you DRESS yourself!
9.       Pay ahead on your child’s day care or school fees  in advance.
10.   Pre Pay on a special occasion that’s coming up or get a jump (lay away) on a reoccurring or annual event  (i.e. a child’s birthday party, start buying school supplies or even Christmas gifts early (they are cheaper). Again, these are things that come EVERY SINGLE YEAR and we wait until the last minute and are FLAT BROKE afterwards.