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Osakis Voices: Try this strategy for tax returns

Happy tax season to everyone! Well, most everyone. I know there are folks that need to pay in on their taxes, but did you know that of all the tax filings that are submitted, roughly 83 percent of them result in a refund to the taxpayer?

Now, these refunds can certainly vary in amounts, but if you're on the 83 percent side of things, you may have already thought of different ways to save or spend that money. Now, as a banker, I certainly have opinions on what you should do with the funds, but I'm not going to write out my opinion on the matter. Rather, I'm going to express the importance of taking a moment and thinking; "I could, but should I?"

Since everybody's financial situation is different, saying to save the money may not be the best idea for you. Perhaps it's best to pay off a debt that's been lingering for too long. Maybe you have been saving, and a tax refund brings puts you beyond your savings goal to buy a consumer good, a vacation or maybe even a down payment on a house. Maybe saving the money is a good idea if you don't have anything in particular to pay off, or don't have anything in mind to purchase. Saving it right away keeps you from buying something that you may have buyer's remorse for later.

Because of all these different cases, I really like the idea of talking about a method that can be embraced universally. Taking a step back and giving yourself a minute to confirm that whatever it is you're looking to purchase, that it's the right purchase for you, and not one bought on a wild hair. That's where the "I could" piece comes from. With any financial windfall, it's easy to get caught up in what to do with the funds, since so many "I could" doors open up. A new four-wheeler, camper, truck or Jet Ski that may not have been affordable prior to the windfall are now options to purchase, but are they the right options for you?

That's where the "but should I" piece comes in. Taking a step back from the excitement and figuring out what option gives you the most bang for your buck can leave you feeling much more confident when you're spending or saving your money.

Ultimately, the choice of what you do with your tax refunds (if you are of the 83 percent that do get to receive one), or other type of windfall, make sure to take a moment and think, "I could, but should I?" It can save you quite a bit of headache down the road. This is a practice that can help anyone in any financial position to make sure that they are being good stewards of their personal finances.