Most Refunds Likely to Be Saved; Surveys Find Debt Priorities

Article excerpt

Byline: Andrea Tomer, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

As the economy continues to shrink and jobs continue to vanish, more Americans are planning to save their tax refund rather than spend it this year, a new survey shows.

Seven in 10 Americans (71 percent) plan to save their tax refunds, invest the money or use it to pay off debt, according to the survey released Thursday by ING Direct USA.

Although Americans are often encouraged to spend their refunds to help stimulate the economy, Americans are choosing to save themselves first, said Arkadi Kuhlmann, president of the Wilmington, Del., financial services company. They strongly believe their top priorities are to stimulate their personal finances and keep the lights on at home.

Debt is weighing heavily on American minds. Nearly half of the respondents polled in the survey (46 percent) plan to use their tax refunds to pay off debt, and one in three (39 percent) plan to pay off that debt this year.

The last 12 months have been a wake-up call, said Chris Rivers, a certified financial planner at Armstrong, Fleming & Moore Inc. in the District. Last year when people got their stimulus checks from President Bush, people went and spent their money. This year, people are taking a more prudent approach to saving, which is a good sign. …