Tax season is here, and while it's not exactly a time of year that most Americans look forward to, it does carry with it the possibility that they'll get some of their hard-earned money back in the form of a refund. But instead of using their new-found money to splurge on something expensive, most intend to use it responsibly, a recent survey suggests.
Of those who anticipate getting a refund from the IRS, nearly 80 percent have every intention of either using it to get out from under their back payments, or save it, according to a poll conducted by Google on behalf of GOBankingRates, a personal finance news and information website. That's up from last year, when three-quarters of respondents expressed either of these intentions.
Taken separately, a slightly higher percentage plan to save their refund rather than use it for debt relief purposes. Specifically, 41 percent of respondents said they'd put their money toward savings, the poll revealed, with 38 percent aiming to pay down debt.
Millennials most likely to save, reduce debt
The survey, which questioned respondents from all 50 state among adults in every age bracket, ages 18 to 65 and older. Generationally speaking, there were several striking similarities. For example, 54 percent of young millennials – ranging between 18 and 24 years old – indicated that they planned to save their tax refund, the poll found, making millennials the most likely group to save their refund. Meanwhile, older millennials – whose ages range between 25 and 34 – were the most likely to pay off debt obligations, with 54 percent of respondents indicating as such. Ten percent of retired baby boomers said they'll probably use their refund to splurge, making them the odds-on group to spend what money they have coming to them.
1 in 3 say they'll make 'drastic' changes to improve finances
By paying down debt or saving for future purchases, Americans are doing some of the things they need to in order to improve their financial standing. This is something that many people vowed to do in the new year. In fact, in a separate survey conducted by credit agency Experian, more than one-third of respondents – 36 percent – said they planned on making "drastic" changes to see to it that their economic situation got better in 2017. In terms of what, specifically, they'll do to make things better, the top responses included finding a better paying job, increasing their savings accounts and reining in how much they spend.
Rod Griffin, Experian's director of public education, warned that improvements can't be realized if you aren't willing to make some sacrifices. In other words, being optimistic about making changes are nothing without action.
"While it is good to be optimistic about the economy and your personal financial situation, you should always be prepared for changes," Griffin advised. "The beginning of the year is a great time to review your finances and budget, check your credit score and credit report, and create a plan to reach your financial goals."
As far as what long-term financial goals consumers have, the Experian poll found that 41 percent hope to save more and 10 percent aim to pay off the payments that they owe on their credit cards.