While it can be tempting to use your tax refund on a shopping spree, it’s time to clean up bad habits and make smart financial decisions that will fund your future. If you got a nice check this year from the IRS, think about how it can be put to the best use. Take a look at these examples to get inspired!

Make Home Improvements

While your tax refund probably won’t pay for a kitchen remodel, it can certainly help repair some things around the house that need work! Clean up the front yard, install new light fixtures, or have new tile laid down in the bathroom. Not only will this help turn your house into a comfy space to live, but it will increase the value of the property if you decide to sell later down the line. It’s never a bad idea to put extra money into improving your home because it’s likely the largest asset that you have.

Save for School Funds

Whether you’re planning to go back to school, are paying off student loans, or have kids attending college soon, put your tax refund toward education. Investing in yourself through higher education is a great idea, but it can often come at a pretty steep price. Use this extra cash to soften the blow and make sure your academic pursuits don’t end up sinking you into unmanageable debt!

Contribute to a Matching 401(k)

If your employer offers a matching 401(k) retirement account as a benefit, putting your tax refund into that account is a no brainer. Even if the Golden Years seem like a long ways off, it’s never too early to put money aside. And if your employer matches what you put in, you’re doubling your investment! Who doesn’t want free money?

Invest It

While there’s no guarantee you’ll get rich off of investing in the stock market, it’s never a bad idea to try! Use your tax refund to open a brokerage account and invest outside of your retirement savings. Even if you don’t know anything about investing, there are plenty of books, online tutorials, and mentors you can seek out to learn how to spend your money wisely. Who knows, you might be able to grow your refund from $1,500 to $15,000!

Rebuild the Emergency Fund

Is your emergency fund running a little low? Stash away your tax refund for when you really need a little extra cash. Car troubles, buying a last-minute plane ticket, or hospital bills are all big expenses that can hit out of nowhere. Make sure a stroke of bad luck doesn’t leave you scrambling to pay back debt!

Pay for Professional Help

Sometimes all it takes is the right mentor to help you change your life. If you want to learn more about managing your money responsibly, pay for a class or a one-on-one meeting with a financial expert to help learn some new concepts. You also don’t need to stick just to the financial realm—if you’ve been struggling emotionally, use the extra cash from your tax refund to see a therapist who can help you work toward a healthier mental state. Consider paying for professional help as an investment in yourself!

So, are you ready to put your extra cash from the IRS to good use? Clean up your habits and make a choice to invest wisely—your future self will thank you!