This information is not intended to be tax advice. Consult a tax preparation professional for tax advice.

Let’s be honest. When our tax refund arrives, a lot of us are tempted to treat it like a magic windfall that enables us to spend freely on the latest attention-grabbing indulgence. Why not blow it all on a humble-brag-worthy zero gravity experience? You only live once, right?

We’re going to level with you. You do only live once. And while taking selfies or snaps in zero gravity might sound like an experience of a lifetime, you’ll also need to be managing your finances for the rest of your life, not just the next few weeks.

Small steps can add up to big opportunities over time when it comes to your finances.  And your tax refund has the potential to get you to those big opportunities even faster. Think of your refund as a bonus for your future self – one that can help set you on a healthy financial path that can lead to a lifetime of sound and satisfying experiences.

Here’s a list of four smart ways to use your tax refund to build a foundation for lasting satisfaction and not just short-term fun.

1. Pay down debt.

If you’re in the habit of just making the minimum monthly payments on your student loan or credit card balance, you’re giving away a lot of money in the form of interest. When you use a chunk of your tax refund to pay down some of the principal, your loan will cost you less in the long run.

2. Build up emergency savings.

Beefing up your savings account is another practical, decidedly non-glamorous, choice, and a great way to help yourself sleep better at night. For optimum peace of mind, you should aim to save at least six months of salary. Interested in starting a rainy day fund? With your Chime Spending Account, you have the ability to open a Savings Account and enroll in Automatic Savings. You’ll reach your goal faster with each purchase you make.

Here’s how it works:

Turn on Automatic Savings and each Chime card purchase is rounded up to the nearest dollar. Round ups are transferred from your Spending Account to your Savings Account. 

3. Automate your savings.

If you like the thrill of taking risks, your tax refund is a good resource to help you try out a new type of investment. Personalized investing has come of age in the digital marketplace with companies like Betterment that help you set and achieve your financial goals by investing your money in a globally diversified portfolio of exchange-traded funds at a fraction of the cost of traditional financial advisors.

4. Save for an amazing experience. 

If you’re still thinking about that $8,000 flight where you get to spend a few minutes spent floating in zero gravity, then start a savings account earmarked specifically for once-in-a-lifetime experiences. If it’s still at the top of your list in a few months and you have the money, then by all means, go for it!

So go ahead and make your future self, proud. E-file your taxes, open a Chime Spending account, and get your refund early. Then, use that chunk of cash from Uncle Sam to lay the foundation for a prosperous, fulfilling future.

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Shane Steele

Shane is the VP of Marketing at Chime. When she's not helping people live healthier financial lives, she can be found on the beach volleyball court. 🏐