Hopefully, most of you are getting money back this year from your tax return. If so, what are you going to do with the money? I know several of us (myself included) look forward to getting our money back every year, but are we spending it wisely?

I notice some of my friends put the money towards a large purchase, such as a TV or clothes, but is that really a good idea? Of course, I cannot tell you what to do with your money, I’m just giving you some food for thought. I’ve come up with a list of alternatives to spending your tax return money on disposable goods such as TVs and electronics.

My first question will always be, do you have any debt you need to pay off, such as a loan or a credit card? Think of how much your tax return can help you with that.

Do you have an emergency fund? It’s always a good idea to have at least 3 to 6 months of living expenses in a bank account, short-term CD or a high-quality money-market fund. It may be a good idea to start an emergency fund if you do not already have one in place… and if you do, why not add to it?

Or have you thought about investing the money or putting it in savings?

How about a step towards retirement? You may think your tax return is only a drop in the bucket, but think of how you may be restoring your 401(k).

How about buying a government bond? The current interest rate through April 30, 2010 is 3.36%. If there are any interest on I Bonds, it is added to the bond monthly and is paid, to you, when you cash the bond. It may earn interest for up to 30 years… and after having it 5 years, there is no penalty if you cash it. If you pay $50 for a bond, you’ll get AT LEAST $50 back. The disadvantage is, of course, if you need the money immediately.

Education? Maybe put the money towards something like your education or an education for our children. It could make you more marketable and make you more money, or it may give your child the chance at a quality education.

As much as that new LED-LCD screen may seem like an instant reward, think of how rewarding it is to pay off your debt sooner or to finance your child’s education. I challenge you to think about what’s best for you in the long-term, not what is going to give you instant satisfaction.