By Alan Prahl

Every tax filing season, advertisements suggest ways to spend tax refunds. It’s easy to give in to the urge to splurge and quickly spend a refund.

Don’t spend your refund impulsively on the first thing that comes to mind. Instead, before your money arrives start a “want list.” Put it on your refrigerator or phone where you’ll see it often. As you think of things you want, add them to the list.

Do you wish you had more money in savings? Would you feel better if you paid down debt? Want money for a vacation or weekend getaway?

After your refund arrives, review the items on your list. Don’t be surprised if you have more ideas for spending than you have money to spend. Here is an example.

Rob and Robin are getting a $3,000 tax refund. Their want list includes $8,300 of spending ideas.

Idea, possible amount to spend

Car repair fund, $500 Saving for better car, $1,000 Visa, $800 Kohl’s, $500 Vacation, $1,000 Weekend getaway, $400 Special dinner, $100 New carpet, $2,000

Emergency fund, $2,000

What would you do if you were Rob and Robin?

Financial professionals often recommend paying off credit card debt and boosting savings. Rob and Robin could pay off their Visa and Kohl’s charges, boost savings and still set aside a nice chunk of money toward a vacation or weekend getaway.

A combination of paying down debt, adding to savings and having a vacation to look forward to offers immediate financial strengthening plus positive encouragement to stay on track financially.

What will you do with your refund?