Helping to make sure your tax refund lasts

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)   "We want to buy a new home when I graduate so we thought well, we better start sticking it away early," said Trasie Cervantes.

"We're going to use it to pay for summer courses and internships," said Abbigail Robinson.

Abbigail Robinson and Trasie Cervantes say money from Uncle Sam in the form of a tax return won't be burning holes in their pockets.

"We don't touch it," Cervantes.

These ladies say they have a plan for the money.

"Decide ahead of time, what am I going to do with this money," said Financial Specialist, Garry Patterson.

"It's something Financial Specialist Garry Patterson says could help you hang on to the money longer or at least know where it's going.

"The principle is this --periodic expenses--use it to pay down debt.   That's a great choice," said Patterson.

Patterson says they don't have to be overly aggressive payments--perhaps spread the money around to ease debt in several areas.  The IRS says the average tax refund for the 2011 filing season is just under 3 thousand dollars.

So for some, there's money to go around.

"Here's 3 thousand, I'm going to put a third of it here, a third of it here, and a third of it here, and you spread it out.   The important thing to ask yourself is how will I feel about this decision 2 months down the road.   Will I be glad that I put it in savings? Absolutely," said Patterson.

"Numerous times we've had to take it out and be thankful that we had it for emergency use," said Robinson.

"I like the nest egg.   It makes me feel comfortable knowing that if my husband lost his job or I had trouble getting a good job--we have money," said Cervantes.

Patterson offers another tip:  make short and long term goals--to help you determine where and how you would like to spend your money.  Short term goals could be something like a needed appliance.  A long term goal may be, you save up those yearly returns to pay for something bigger--like home improvements, maybe even college.

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