Yes, it’s tax time again. Have you thought about what you’re going to do with your refund? Vacationing in Miami or buying new electronics may sound appealing, but how about doing something that puts you one step closer to financial freedom? Follow these strategies to make the most of your tax refund:

1. Lower your credit card and loan debt.
Battling high-interest rates and finance charges? Paying down or off some of your credit card bills, student loans and personal loans will probably give you the greatest return. “Pay down the cards or loans with the highest percentage first,” advises Charles Hill, a New York City-based financial planner. You can generally  save anywhere from 10 to 29 percent in interest by avoiding future finance charges.

2. Set up your retirement fund.
There’s no need to put it off any longer. This is the perfect time to put some money aside for your future, if you’ve paid down your credit cards and student and personal loans, says Hill. Not everyone has a 401(k) at work. Deposit some of your tax refund check into a traditional or Roth IRA. “Traditional IRAs are the best forms of tax-efficient retirement accounts with annuity options,” Hill says. “Annuity options allow you to structure your retirement to provide a guaranteed income stream each year of your retired life.” Added bonus: You can have both a 401(k) or 403(b) in addition to an IRA if your income meets certain IRS guidelines. Visit for more information.

Read the remainder of this article in the April 2014 issue of EBONY Magazine.