If you're a parent, you know about the expanded child tax credit, which gives taxpaying parents up to $300 per child under 6 and $250 per child between 6 and 17.

Buy Essentials If you are struggling with bills, or if you barely have enough food in the house, that's obviously what you should spend the money on.

Cover Secondary Needs "Secondary needs are essentials that come after you fulfil your necessities," says Strong Point Financial president and author Chance Robinson.

Save If you aren't in a financial jam, don't spend the money right away. Instead, come up with a plan.

Build Your Emergency Fund If you don't have extra cash put away, prepare for the unexpected by starting an emergency fund.

Repay Debts This one is pretty self-explanatory: If you pay down debt, especially high-interest loans, you'll have more money to spend on your kids and your household later.

Invest If you consider the child tax credit extra money, the best use of it is investing, says Bing Yu, professor of finance at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Analyze Your Yearly Spending You could save the child tax credit payments to use during the holidays or next summer to help make those rough parts of the year a little less rough.