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To Save or to Spend: A Tale of Two Tax Refunds

Many Americans will save or pay down debt; others plan travel, purchases

ATLANTA, March 21, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- More than two-thirds of Americans are expecting to receive a tax refund this year, and 18 percent of them are planning to save all of it, according to a nationwide survey conducted by SunTrust just before the 2019 tax filing season.  

Many will use their check from Uncle Sam to take an important step toward building financial confidence: paying down debt.  Thirty-one percent said that at least a portion of their tax refund will be used to reduce balances on existing loans, and 24 percent said they would use some of their refund on travel and entertainment.

"For those expecting a tax refund this year, whether it is larger or smaller than in previous years, tax filing season is a great time to take a few simple steps to build financial confidence by starting or adding to an emergency fund, paying off debt, or contributing to a retirement plan," said Brian Ford, financial well-being executive at SunTrust.

"Practicing consistent smart money techniques may be a challenge, but a tax refund gives many people a strong place from which to start," added Ford.

In a survey of 2,500 adults, after paying down debt and travel and entertainment, the most popular ways Americans plan to spend their tax refund include retail purchases, home improvement and charitable donations, respectively.

Top Responses for Using Tax Refunds in 2019:

Pay Down Debt: 31%
Travel and Entertainment: 24%
Retail Purchases: 20%
Save Entire Refund: 18%
Home Improvement: 14%
Charitable Donations: 4%

The survey found that three quarters of those who expect a tax refund plan to save 25 percent or more.

"Our findings show that Americans by and large are taking responsible steps to ensure their financial well-being," Ford said. "We've learned that people of all incomes can achieve financial confidence – meaning they can spend less time worrying about their money and focus their attention on the people and things in life that matter to them."

SunTrust's quarterly National Financial Confidence Poll, from which the above statistics are taken, is representative of the U.S. adult population with participating Americans of different ages, incomes and geographic regions.

SunTrust, a purpose-driven company, is leading the onUp movement to advance financial wellness in America. Through individuals have access to free tools, resources and a community to motivate them to take steps to gain greater control and confidence around their money.

About SunTrust Banks, Inc.

SunTrust Banks, Inc. (NYSE: STI) is a purpose-driven company dedicated to Lighting the Way to Financial Well-Being for the people, businesses, and communities it serves. SunTrust leads onUp, a national movement inspiring Americans to build financial confidence. Headquartered in Atlanta, the Company has two business segments: Consumer and Wholesale. Its flagship subsidiary, SunTrust Bank, operates an extensive branch and ATM network throughout the high-growth Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states, along with 24-hour digital access. Certain business lines serve consumer, commercial, corporate, and institutional clients nationally. As of December 31, 2018, SunTrust had total assets of $216 billion and total deposits of $163 billion. The Company provides deposit, credit, trust, investment, mortgage, asset management, securities brokerage, and capital market services. Learn more at

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SOURCE SunTrust Banks, Inc.

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