UNITED STATES—For most Americans, tax season is in full force and many are now tasked with what to do with that tax refund that is expected in the mail or that has arrived in the bank account. Be aware, you can’t cheat the IRS, for those looking to do so, you will indeed be caught. We have become enamored in a culture, where so many people will do anything to earn a buck, but doing the right thing carries you so much further than taking a shortcut.

There is the belief for so many Americans who rely on that tax refund to get ahead. For others, the notion of breaking even or not having to owe the government at all makes them even happier. That’s beyond the point; the focus is on those who are INDEED getting a refund this tax season. First, execute a plan. Think about what you want to do with that refund. I’m a firm believer that if it is indeed money owed to you; you have the right to treat yourself to something.

So many of us work, work, work, that we never take a moment to breathe and just soak in all the greatness that is out there to us. For most Americans that tax refund is utilized to pay off debt, and I must agree there have been countless occasions where I was in the same boat. Those pesky credit cards, those department store charges, that mortgage, and a load of other expenses that are never ending, that tax refund can put a large debt into those monthly expenses.

Some may edge on the caution of paying a portion, while others decide to completely pay off those credit cards. I’d ague if you have the funds to do so why not. The goal is once you pay off those cards not to fall back into that habit of utilizing that card over and over again and you’re back to square one. The goal of paying off a credit card is to eliminate that monthly expense or stress that has been haunting you for some time.

If you’re not using that refund to pay off debt, it might be used for a major purchase, which is always a good idea. Perhaps you’ve been eyeing new furniture for the home, in need of some new appliances; looking to buy that TV you’ve been eyeing or tackling renovations around the house. I’m all for using money to help increase the value of your home.

Especially if new windows, siding, a roof, gutters or structural fixes are needed. Anytime you can sell your home and make more money than what you initially paid for the property that is a good sign. Why? Those are funds that you can use for other things later. Purchasing a lavish gift might not be at the top of the list, the idea of taking a vacation to a destination that you’ve been dreaming about may be.

How about flying somewhere sunny and tropical? Well that tax refund will do the trick and even more impressive is if the funds allow for the entire family to vacation. Think about having seven days in a place where work and family life are placed on pause. Yes, it’s something so many of us dream of. If the refund is big enough, take 2 or 3 vacations. Enjoy the fruits of all your hard labor.

However, something I see all too often with people who do receive hefty tax refunds is they become a bit frivolous about how they spend money. Just because you have some extra cash, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still be on the lookout for bargains. Look at it this way: if you catch something on sale, that gives you even more funds to purchase other items down the line.

Be smart people; use that tax refund to get your finances ahead, but at the same time you DESERVE to treat yourself to something so that you’ve been eyeing or thinking about for the past 12 months. Why? You’ve earned it!