(USA TODAY) I just completely paid off one of my student loans, courtesy of my tax refund. A lot of us are getting extra cash this month from the IRS, and many of you have told me you plan to do the same.
First, keep these tips in mind. I asked LearnVest CEO and Certified Financial Planner Alexa von Tobel for her advice on the best way to make our money work for us.
You might think your money should go toward your biggest loan. You should actually focus on paying the loans with the highest interest rates, she says. Those are the loans ultimately costing you more.
Before you send a huge payment to your lender, call first. Make sure the payment will be applied to the loan's principal amount and not future interest payments.
Also, loans shouldn't be your only priority. If you don't have an emergency savings fund, von Tobel suggests using your tax refund to start one. Student loans are generally considered "good" debt. If you don't have savings, you may find yourself trapped by "bad" debt, such as from credit cards.
Finally, if you're getting a hefty refund, you should probably change your tax withholding. It may be exciting to get several thousand dollars each spring, but that payout essentially means you're giving the government an interest-free loan. Adjust your withholding, and you'll get more of that money back throughout the year.