BOSTON (CBS) – Too many treat their refunds as a windfall. It is not. It is a return of YOUR money. You allowed your employer to withhold too much money last year and you are just now getting it back.

The average refund this year will be around $3,000 and 75% of taxpayers will get a refund.

So what to do with that refund? Well as you all know I usually recommend the practical stuff. So don’t even think about rewarding yourself with those dollars if you don’t have an emergency fund or if you have credit card debt!

A recent survey found that 62% of surveyed households had experienced at least one financial crisis in the last year — and 51% lacked any emergency savings to help them cope. Consider using that refund to save more in a Rainy Day fund.

State Treasurer Steve Grossman’s office sent me some information on a great program Save Your Refund.

Save Your Refund gives taxpayers big incentives to save part of their tax refund. The promotion, now in its second year, is offered by the Doorways to Dreams (D2D) Fund, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people save money and have fun doing it.

The incentive is actual money! Now you can get yourself into a win, win situation here. You save your money in your Rainy Day fund or an IRA and you enter into a contest to win cash prizes as large as $35,000.

To be eligible to enter a tax filer must be over age 18, are due a federal tax refund, are legal residents of the U.S. and willing to split $50 or more of their federal tax refund into a qualified savings product using the IRS Form 8888.

Your Rainy Day should have in it at least 3 months of living expenses. This money is for an emergency such as loss of income or unexpected medical bills or your car breaks down.

One more thing:

Operation Money Wise Is Designed for Those with Military Backgrounds

The state’s Office of Financial Literacy announced that registration is open for an upcoming “Money Conference” geared specifically toward veterans, active military members, and their families.  The Conference will commence at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 22nd in McKenzie Auditorium at Massachusetts Bay Community College in Wellesley.

The free first-ever Conference, dubbed Operation Money Wise, will provide instruction on matters such as how to sharpen spending and saving skills, how to protect assets from predatory lending practices, and what financial tools and benefits are available to service members and veterans.  State officials said that, particularly given the complexity of the military benefit system, some veterans and service members might not take advantage of the financial benefits available to them or might expect to receive a benefit for which they don’t qualify.

The event is jointly sponsored by Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services, the Massachusetts National Guard, and the Financial Literacy Trust Fund.

A free continental breakfast and box lunch will be made available to people attending the Conference.  For more information and to register, interested parties can visit or call (617) 367-9333 Ext. 615.