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Some people by now have their returns, others are waiting for the direct deposit notification or the check in the mailbox. Once you get your refund though, what should you do with it? Save it? Have fun? Invest? There are many avenues to take and none of these are wrong. Which one is the smartest though? The average tax refund was $3,218 in 2015. That's a good chuck of money. Consider how this money could help you in future instead of the present with a few of these options…

Emergency Fund. Start or build an emergency fund. Nearly 3 out of 10 Americans have no emergency savings. Most financial experts recommend that you have the equivalent of at least 6 months' worth of expenses stashed in a savings account.

Invest in yourself. Think about it: You are your biggest income-producing asset. Your expertise, talent, experience, work ethic and reputation for bringing delicious snacks to office potlucks are all part of what adds value to this asset. And unlike stock market returns and interest rates, you can influence your own rate of return by improving your value in the working world. Using your tax refund to pay for additional training, tuition, a work-related conference or membership in a professional organization is an investment that can pay off for years to come in bigger paychecks and greater job stability.

Open an IRA. If you don't have the option to fund a 401(k) or you would rather put your tax refund directly in a retirement account, consider opening or funding an IRA. You can elect to have part or all of your tax refund directly deposited in an IRA on your tax return, so no additional work is required. If this is your first IRA, be sure to do the math on whether a Roth or traditional option will work better to reduce your lifetime tax bill. You may also need to do some research to find a low-cost IRA with great investment options. IRAs have much smaller contribution limits than 401(k) plans, so take care not to over-fund the account. The 2017 contribution limit is $5,500, with a $1,000 catch-up option if you're age 50 or older.

Contribute to a HSA. Another way to get ready for retirement is to prepare for potential health care costs. One way to do this is to fund a health savings account if your health care plan allows for one. A HSA gives you another tax-advantaged way to save, and the money can roll over from year to year and be used for medical expenses at any time. HSA investment options are often limited, and not all health care plans allow for the use of a HSA. But if you have maxed out your other tax-advantaged retirement savings options, a HSA can allow you to bulk up your savings for health care costs.

While all of this is very important, don't forget to do a little something for yourself. This is just as important as anything listed here. Happy Monday!