6 Smart Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund

Spend your tax refund in ways that matter with this list of 6 smart ways to spend your tax refund.

6 Smart Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund

Spend your tax refund in ways that matter with this list of 6 smart ways to spend your tax refund.

Tax refund season is in full swing, and with it comes a lot of hard-earned cash going back into the hands of taxpayers. With 2017’s average refund of $2,895 for nearly 80% of the nation, that offers a good chunk of change and opportunity for ways to spend your tax refund.

No matter how you chose to spend your tax refund in the past, it’s easy to feel like the money came in and went right back out without ever really having anything to show for it.

We at CFSC would like to help you get the most out of your tax refund this year. Now that we’ve shared 5 easy steps for creating a budget, we’ve compiled a list of 6 smart ways to spend your tax refund so you can have something to show for it this time around.

1. Build Your Emergency Fund

If there’s anything that’s certain, it’s that nothing is certain. Emergencies always arise. Cars break down. Water heaters go out in the house. Unexpected trips to the hospital happen. When emergencies occur, it can easily put us in a financial bind. That’s where your emergency fund comes in.

An emergency fund should have, at minimum, 3-6 months worth of pay. While this may sound like a lofty goal, it’s one that will protect you when the times comes.

Your tax return may not be enough to fully fund your emergency fund, but at the very least, it will get you a lot closer than you are today. When you choose to spend your tax refund on building your emergency fund, you’ll be thankful you did when the unexpected happens.

2. Pay Down Credit Card Balances

Another way to spend your tax refund is to pay down credit card balances with high interest rates. High interest rates keep you spinning your wheels and prevent you from being able to pay off your debt sooner.

Find your credit cards with an interest rate of more than 10%, and start paying them down. As a rule, you should always pay down the highest rate first, and if you pay one off, cut it up. This protects you from paying that high interest rate on your purchases with that card again.

Before you close that high interest credit card you just paid off with your tax refund, make sure to read the do’s and don’ts of closing a credit card.

3. Chip Away at Principal Balances

Student loans. Car loans. Mortgages. These all have something in common: your payments apply towards both the principal balance as well as the interest. If you want to cut down on the total interest you’ll pay over the life of those loans, you’ll want to spend your tax refund on chipping away at those principal balances.

Use your tax refund to apply a lump sum payment to the principal balance of one or more of your loans. But be careful: you must make sure to specify it is a payment on the principal balance only.

4. Fund a Roth IRA

Did you know that in order to generate about $40,000 per year after retirement, the average person needs to save $1.18 million?

That number can sound frightening!

The good news is: a Roth IRA is the perfect place to start investing. Roth IRAs are individual retirement accounts that allow tax-free withdrawals after the age of 59 ½. There is a limit to how much you can place into your Roth IRA account each year: $5,500.

Spend your tax refund on saving for your future, and start funding a Roth IRA today.

5. Prepare for the Holidays

Yes. We know. Christmas is a long way away. However, we also know that every year, majority of Americans struggle with the financial burdens that come with purchasing gifts during the holiday season.

Spend your tax refund making sure this year’s holiday season is one you don’t have to worry about financially, and open a savings account specifically for your holiday fund. Now, you can go into the rest of the year knowing you don’t have to worry during what is supposed to be considered the happiest time of the year.

6. Invest in You

You worked hard all year long, and you’re about to get something back for it. While we recommend choosing to spend your tax refund on any of the above first, we also know how the opportunity for a recharge can propel someone through the rest of the year.

It doesn’t matter what it is, but find a way to invest in yourself. We all enjoy rewards of a job well-done, so consider spending your tax refund in a way that rewards you.

Here are some ideas:

  • Take a vacation
  • Pay for an annual spa membership
  • Update your work wardrobe
  • Purchase an annual gym membership
  • Fund your hobby

No matter the ways you choose to spend your tax refund this year, make sure it ultimately gives something back to you in the long run.

At CFSC, we offer tax direct deposit as well as prepaid debit cards for tax returns that make it easy to handle when you decide where you want to spend your tax refund.

Have a paper refund check? No problem! Find your nearest check cashing place at CFSC, and our staff members will be happy to assist you with our check cashing services so you can be on your way quickly and with cash.

FSCNY Launches 2018 Young Leaders Scholarship Program

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FSCNY Launches 2018 Young Leaders Scholarship Program

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Applications available now! Deadline is March 9, 2018
Applications can be submitted via email to info@fscny.org.
Download the 2018 Scholarship Application

The Financial Service Centers of New York (FSCNY), the trade association representing New York’s check cashers, today launched its 2018 Young Leaders Scholarship Awards Program. Applications are now available and will be accepted through Friday, March 9, 2018.

QUALIFICATIONS

The Young Leaders Scholarship Program, which is offered in conjunction with MoneyGram International, was recently listed by the NY Post as one of ten NY-centric scholarship programs available to New York students seeking higher education. The Program focuses on nurturing and promoting leadership and accomplishments among high school students approaching their first year of college. To be eligible, applicants must demonstrate:

  • Academic achievement
  • Leadership in their school
  • Involvement in their community, contributing at least 50 valuable hours of volunteer service, each year of high school

REQUIREMENTS

Applicants must be seniors attending public high schools in New York City’s five boroughs or surrounding New York counties. Applications must include a 250-word essay describing the applicant’s most rewarding community service experience.

YOUNG LEADERS SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM

“The Scholarship Program is a great opportunity each year for FSCNY to give back to the communities which are served by its members and empower new generations of leaders”, said Matt Swentkofske, FSCNY Chairman. “Education has the power to transform lives, and FSCNY is proud to have played a small role in transforming the lives of more than 300 students since the Program’s inception in 1996.”

Entering its 22nd year, the FSCNY/MoneyGram Scholarship Program has granted $788,000 to 324 high school students in New York City and surrounding areas. Student awards range between $2,000 and $7,500. The awards issued include the William Siegel Scholarship and Gene Schott Scholarship Awards, which are issued to selected recipients as one-time cash awards that can be applied towards the cost of their freshman year of study at an accredited two or four-year college or university.

The 2018 award recipients will be recognized during the FSCNY/MoneyGram Scholarship Luncheon at FSCNY’s 26th Annual Conference & Exposition, scheduled for April 26, 2018, at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge.

ABOUT FSCNY

Financial Service Centers of New York is the industry’s leading voice on legislative, regulatory, and business issues and the leading advocate for the rights of consumers to access basic financial services in New York. The New York check cashing industry consists of approximately 520 check cashing locations, which employ nearly 4,000 New York residents. The industry cashes nearly 20 million checks annually with a face value of nearly $11 billion. New York’s check cashing fee cap of 2.03% is among the lowest in the nation. Learn more at www.fscny.org.

How To Create a Budget That Works In 5 Easy Steps

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How To Create a Budget That Works In 5 Easy Steps

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You don’t have to be overwhelmed about budgeting anymore! Create a budget that works for you with our five-step guide. By following these easy steps to create your budget, you’ll develop more ways to save and invest in your future, and you’ll gain control of your finances like never before.

#1: What’s Your Take-Home

Net income is the amount of “cash” you walk away with on payday, aka your “take-home” income. In order to create a budget, you’ll need to start here. The number you’ll want for your budget is a month’s worth of net income. So, if you get paid twice a month, it’ll be your take-home for both paychecks. Once a month = one paycheck.

#2: What Has To Come Out

Write down the fixed expenses like your house or rent payment, a car loan, utility bills, internet service, etc. These are bills that are required to pay every month. For those bills that fluctuate such as your electric or water bill, round them up. If you typically pay around $87/month for your electric bill, round it up to $90. Remember: It’s always better to overestimate than under prepare.

CFSC bill payments offer the ability to make sure your bills are paid on time, every time so you don’t have to worry.

Pro Tip: Many utility companies offer average-pay plans. Average pay plans allow your yearly bill to be averaged so that you pay the same amount each month rather than different amounts during different seasons. This especially helps when trying to create a budget that works. Call your local utility company to see if this is available in your area.

#3: Count Your Variables

Variable expenses like gas, groceries, and entertainment can drastically affect how things work when you create a budget. If they aren’t accounted for, your budget simply won’t work.

When you’re writing these down, it’s best to estimate as closely as you can. Give yourself years of budgeting success by getting in the habit of setting strict limits for your variable expenses. For example, take a close look at how much money goes to groceries each month, and set yourself a strict limit. Allow a specific amount for your gas each month (factor in how much you’ll need to get to and from work each week, and then add in an extra tank or so each month for buffer). Whatever you do, set your limits and stick to them.

Using a prepaid debit card from CFSC Community Financial Service Center can also help you easily manage your funds without adding unbearable interest rates and debt that you acquire with credit cards.

#4: See What’s Left

It’s time to do the math! Subtract your outgoing from your incoming. How much do you have left over? If you have a negative number or not much left at the end of the month, there’s still work to be done. Examine your variable expenses again and see what you can cut. How much money do you spend eating out? Save by cooking at home instead. Call your cable tv provider and see what they can do to lower your bill. How about renting movies and staying in rather than going to the movies for date night? Take out what you’d like to have, and focus on what you need to have.

#5: Create Your Budget

The hard part’s out of the way! It’s time to develop a plan. Put half of what you have leftover at the end of the month into savings, no matter the amount. Every little bit helps, and in order to save, you have to start somewhere. $25 a month in savings equals $300 at the end of the year.

Now, take the other half and find your loan with the highest interest rate (excluding your mortgage – save that for your very last loan pay off). Put that other half on top of your regular monthly loan payment so you can start chipping away at it. Sooner or later, that loan will be paid off, and you’ll have that much more extra income each month.

Don’t Forget to Check Back In

With changes in life comes changes in your finances, and thus, you’ll want to check back in on the budget you’ve created. If you get a raise, automatically add half of it to your monthly savings to keep building that account. The other half can be used to pay off more debt or add to your variable expenses allotment.

When it comes to making the most of your tax return each year, your nearest check cashing place at CFSC offers tax direct deposit for your convenience. CFSC tax direct deposit allows you to get your tax return EARLY and put your money towards what counts. Make your tax return truly count this year by putting half into savings and half towards one of your lines of debt or building your emergency fund. You can also cash your tax refund check or unload your debit card for CASH right away at CFSC. No waiting for checks to clear or limits on unloading your card.

In 2018, make it a great financial year! Follow some or all of these steps and practices, and find yourself a little more financially secure. For more financial services or information, stop by your local CFSC.

5 Things To Do When You Cash Your Bonus Check

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5 Things To Do When You Cash Your Bonus Check

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It’s so easy to become overwhelmed with excitement and get distracted when you cash your bonus check. Before you know it, you’ve spent all the money, and you’re still no better off than you were before it arrived. To help make sure you get the most out of your money when you cash your bonus check, we’ve compiled a list of ways you can use your extra funds.

Send Money to Friends and Family

During the holidays, it can be hard to come up with gift ideas for loved ones. Taking some of your bonus check and using a wire transfer to give to friends or family allows you to send money in lieu of gifts or help someone in their time of need.

Take Care of Monthly Bills

It’s a nice feeling when you can get ahead, right? CFSC offers bill pay to help you make sure your bills are taken care of and paid on time. Use some or all of your funds when you cash your bonus check towards getting caught up, or even ahead, with your regular monthly bills. Your wallet will thank you for it come January!

Turn Your Cash Into Security

Head over to your nearest check cashing CFSC location where you can cash your bonus check and transfer the funds to a debit card. Now, you’ll be carrying around an easy, secure payment method that allows you the freedom of utilizing a card with no minimum balance, no interest rate, and offers you a little more personal security in your spending.

Pay Off Loans

Has that car loan been looming over your head? Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to worry about that monthly payment anymore? Whether it’s a loan for a car or something else, ending the constant payment when you cash your bonus check adds money to your pocket every month. Just stop by a check cashing CFSC location, cash your check, and turn the amount you need into a money order to provide a safe, secure payment method to pay off that loan.

Take a Trip

The bills are caught up, your friends and family are taken care of, so what now? What about a nice little international vacation to reward you for all your hard work? Stop by your nearest CFSC financial service center and utilize our foreign currency exchange services so you can enjoy that trip without paying extra fees that come with exchanging your money elsewhere.

Whatever you do, make sure that when you cash your bonus check, you’re making your money work for you. After all, it was you that worked hard to earn it in the first place.

Find the nearest check cashing CFSC location today, and let us help you start getting the most out of your bonus check!

Sending Money During the Holidays

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Sending Money During the Holidays

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The holidays are right around the corner, and with them comes the ever-challenging task of gift giving. What do you do when you can’t decide on what gift to give someone? It’s easy.

Send them money!

Send Money Via Wire Transfer

At CFSC, we understand that when you want to send money to someone, you want to do it now. That’s why we offer wire transfers that allow your money to arrive quickly, safely, and securely. Even better is that when you send money to your friends and family, they can pick it up in cash at their nearest CFSC check cashing place, have it transferred straight to their bank account, or the money can be sent directly to their mobile phone!

Utilize Our Easy Check Cashing Service

Simply come by one of our over 200 locations nationwide and cash a check to send money to your friend or family member. Have a check you need to cash just for yourself? Stop on in! We cash all types of checks, no matter the amount. We want you and your loved ones to have a hassle-free holiday, so we take the hassle out of the equation.

Enjoy the Simplicity of Sending Money at CFSC

Whether you’re looking to send money to a friend down the street or a relative across the globe this holiday season, CFSC takes great pride in knowing we’re here to help make gift giving easy for you. After all, you’re a part of our family, too!

Check out all the different financial services we offer that take the hassle out of the day-to-day transactions, or help your friend or family find their nearest check cashing place to receive their monetary gift from you this year.