(NBC News) U.S. retail sales of just about everything took a nice turn up in the month of March, and analysts say some of that's because millions of Americans started getting their tax refund checks from the IRS.
The average refund so far is close to $3,000 and surveys have found many, if not most, people are spending it.
While retailers are loving it, financial advisors have other ideas.
"one of the best places to go if you do have a tax refund is to think about building up your emergency fund," said Christine Benz of Morningstar.com.
Benz also suggests using tax refund money to pay down debt.
"Especially high interest rate credit card debt or high interest rate student loan debt. The best return on their investments very often will be by paying down that debt," said Benz.
And once you've done the responsible thing, treat yourself to a splurge of 5 to 10-percent of the refund.