5 major ways to help your tax refund grow into something better.

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ST. LOUIS -- By now many families throughout our region have already received their tax refunds. The big question for many of us: what should we do with it? Before you plan that shopping spree or contemplate that non-essential wishlist item, I have five suggestions that will hopefully save you more in the long run.

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We do not receive any financial compensation for mentioning any product, company or service. The only purpose of this segment is to save you money.

Top 5 Ways To Use Your Tax Refund

1. Lighten Your Debt or Invest In Your Retirement: Lightening debt, decreasing the amount of money you owe, paying off a credit card bill or investing in your retirement is the ultimate and most beneficial way to use your tax refund.

2. Save Your Money With A Bonus: If you're not happy with your bank or tired of the constant fees, consider a re-loadable prepaid account. My favorite program is from American Express Serve. There is no credit check, no hidden fees and no minimum balance required. Bonuses include a $50 direct deposit credit, a federal tax refund $20 credit and options to add cash for free across 15,000 CVS and 7-Eleven Locations. CLICK HERE for find out more.

3. Get A Gift Card: It may sounds like a strange suggestion but if you have cash you need to spend, buy a gift card through a card-seller like Cardpool and get as much as a 35% bonus on gift card purchases. You can easily find a gift card from your favorite retailer by clicking here.

4. Schedule Preventative Car Maintenance: It's been a brutal winter. Considering many car-owners only focus on absolutely essential maintenance, this could be a good time to have some more thorough work done - especially with the potholes plauging many of our commutes.

5. Get A Home Energy Audit: The thought of spending money to have a professional determine where your home could be more efficient may sound absurd but this could easily save you hundreds of dollars per year. Upfront costs of around $100 for an assessment seem far more accessible if a fraction of a tax refund is used.

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