If you are less than six months away from retiring an auto loan, student loan or some other installment debt consider using your refund to wipe that slate clean right away. Reducing your number of monthly obligations cleans up your financial picture and lets you simplify your budget. It lets you breathe and think about how else you might cut costs and start living within your means. More important, says Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com, paying off such debts instantly eliminates interest expense and boosts your monthly cash flow. Says McBride: "Paying off the last $2,500 of a car loan might save you $400 a month right now when you really need it."