Invest in yourself in 2017: 4 female experts tell you how to achieve your personal best in your finances, career, business, and health.

Author:Fox, Ashley M.

1 Invest in Your Wealth

4 Smart Ways to Use Your Tax Refund

By Ashley M. Fox

Have you ever gotten a lump sum of money and months later felt like you had nothing to show for it? Let's leave those old financial habits in the year 2016, and prepare our minds and bank accounts for 2017.

You are a disciplined wealth builder, and as such, you must have a plan in place for your tax refund. Here are some ways to use it wisely:

  1. Start or increase your "in-case-life-happens" fund. Unexpected expenses will always come, but it is only considered an "emergency" if you're unprepared. Start 2017 with an account that is ready for any unexpected expense that comes your way. Why not jump-start the year with a solid foundation? The goal is always to have three to six months of your monthly expenses set aside. So, be sure to determine that amount, and deposit a portion of your tax refund into your savings account.

  2. Pay down your high-interest credit cards. If you are like most people, you'd rather go about life without the thought of having to pay yet another bill. But, before you go into 2017 ready to pay off ALL your debt; slow down. Review your outstanding debt, and only pay your high-interest credit balances down to 30% utilization. By just paying your high-interest credit cards down, you will increase your credit score, and you can potentially lower your monthly credit card payment. Do not spend your entire tax refund on paying down debt.

  3. Invest in a Roth IRA. Paying down debt is important, but how long are you going to defer your wealth just to pay down debt? While you are building a plan to pay everyone back, make sure you take care of YOU! Roth IRAs are a great way to help lower your taxes and increase your retirement savings. Roth IRAs also allow you to take advantage of tax-deferred, compounded growth. If you'd like to be better financially in the future, it is time to start planning for tomorrow, TODAY!

  4. Invest in a permanent life insurance policy. Life insurance is one of the best ways to create generational wealth. Having a life insurance policy in place should be a standard for people of ALL ages, because it helps ensure that we are leaving our family in a better financial position. However, life insurance can also be used to invest your money and use it while you are living. Every year during tax season, you can do an annual contribution into your policy. This way, you do not have to worry about monthly payments. Key items--such as your age, health, and income--will help determine how your local agent should structure your policy.

    Ashley M. Fox is a former Wall Street analyst, a Howard University grad, and an expert in her field as a financial architect. She is the founder of Empify, an...

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