You got a bonus! That’s great! You worked hard for that money, so of course you should get to enjoy it. But before you rush out to the mall to grab the first thing that catches your eye, take a few deep breaths.
Enjoy having the cash in hand while you consider these tips from RealSimple.com to protect your money and put it to work for you.
1) Don’t let your bonus melt a hole in your credit card
Just because you got a bonus doesn’t mean you have to spend it right this second. As soon as you get the money, move it into a savings account so it’s harder to access while you really think about how to use it.
2) Don’t anticipate your bonus amount
Even if your company announced a percentage gift or told you how much your bonus will be, don’t count your dollars before you have them in your hand.
Unless you are the finance manager, you don’t know all the factors involved in calculating your bonus amount including how much will be taken out for taxes. So wait to spend the money until you see exactly how much you received.
3) Don’t create more debt because you got a bonus
Whatever you do, don’t let the extra money from a bonus or commission check lure you into going further in debt. Don’t even consider “spending” your bonus using your credit card before it arrives with the intention of paying off your card when the check comes in. Hold out and spend the cash when you get it.
4) Don’t buy huge gifts
Whether you are shopping for yourself or others, don’t throw all your bonus money into large gifts. You (hopefully!) had a plan for holiday shopping before the bonus came in. Stick to the plan and buy budget-appropriate gifts your family will love.
5) Don’t include this year’s bonus in next year's financial plan
There are two sides to this coin. When you look at your end-of-year earnings, your bonus may be included in the total. So don’t just divide by 12 and assume that’s what you’ll have each month next year, or you may come up short on your monthly budget.
At the same time, don’t assume that a big bonus this year means a big bonus next year.