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Refunds: To spend, save, or pay off debt?

Staff writer

Tax season is here and that means some tax payers will have to decide how to spend tax return reimbursement.

For those on the receiving end after the paperwork settles, deciding what to do with that extra chunk of change can be as simple as an giving in to an impulse buy or as complicated as investing elsewhere.

Either way, if the money is there, it can be put to use.

Retired Marion resident Norma Kline doesn’t have any particular plans for her refund. She’s just waiting to see if she’ll get one.

“We always just pray for a refund,” Kline said.

Kenny Rindt, recreational vehicle owner, also has no specific plans.

“If I get one, I’m going to fill this thing up before gas prices go back up,” Rindt said Thursday. “Gas prices already went up 6 cents again.”

Chuck Good, president of Peabody State Bank, has two suggestions for tax refund recipients. One is to pay off consumer debts, especially outstanding credit card bills with high interest rates, and the other is to “sock it away” for a rainy day.

“If you’re not getting credit cards paid off, that means you’re backsliding and living beyond your means,” Good said. “It’s also a good idea to build up your reserve so that you have something to fall back on should any unforeseen things sneak up on you.”

Good said the decision to save, spend, or pay off debt really depends on where a person is in life, but personally he leaned more toward building up savings.

“Saving takes discipline,” Good said. “I talked to a guy the other day who put his savings account in an out of town bank, so it would physically take more effort for him to get at, because he said he didn’t have the discipline to save it.”

Air Force retiree Al Ash of Marion plans to exercise a little self-discipline and pay off some debt.

“We will probably use our tax refund to pay off bills from our past trip,” Ash said. “If there is any leftover, maybe we’ll use some to enjoy more traveling.”

Elizabeth Wine, branch manager at Great Plains Federal Credit Union in Hillsboro echoed Good’s advice.

“With what I have seen come across my desk, people are getting overextended,” Wine said. “People should work to get where they’re not living paycheck to paycheck.”

She said the majority of the credit card spending she has seen could be considered “impulse shopping.”

Should a purchase need to be made, Wine recommends people do ample research, and compare needs to wants to determine whether they need a specific item.

Stacey and Tabitha Sawyer of Marion said they have a specific purchase in mind this year that is defiantly a need, not a want.

“We’re buying a new bed,” Tabitha said. “The memory foam fits to our bodies, and now we sleep in holes shaped like us.”

Stacey said they also use tax refunds to pay off bills.

“We usually try to use our refunds in a responsible way,” he said. “But occasionally we’ve bought things like a PlayStation 3 when that came out.”

Last modified Feb. 4, 2015

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