Updated on December 4, 2015
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s around that time again when mall sales start, weekends get fully booked with gatherings with family and friends, and you bring out your Christmas decorations, and best of all, Christmas bonuses come in!
Before you spend it all and then come January wonder where it all went and you’re back to living paycheck-to-paycheck, here are 9 ways to spend your Christmas bonus and have the impact last you a little longer.
1) Pay off any and all credit card debt.
If you’re carrying a balance on your credit card, that means you haven’t been able to pay it in full the past few statements — this would be the best, most rational move. Instead of splurging on any other new items, you need to catch up and pay for money you already spent using your credit card. So you can save yourself thousands in interest. You’ll be glad you did.
2) Open a mutual fund or UITF… if you already have life insurance.
If you don’t have life insurance yet, by all means, go get yourself covered first and protect your loved ones. You can start with simple term insurance if you don’t have much. Add a little more and you can get variable universal life (VUL) insurance. I like to have a mix of VUL and traditional life insurance.
Then if you have those bases covered, use that extra to start investing in a mutual fund or top-up if you already have an account. You’re able to live your everyday on just your usual income, let your bonus be the extra boost for your investment.
3) Set aside for a down payment for a big-ticket item.
Do you have plans of buying a car or even a house anytime in the next few years? Down payments may seem out of reach but if you set aside your bonus toward that, doesn’t it just seem a little more attainable?
If you don’t trust yourself to not touch your bonus within your savings account, it’s easy enough to open a time deposit or a money-market UITF.
4) Pay off your mortgage
Seriously. I feel obliged to say this, boring as it sounds. Ask your banker about making an advanced payment, if there are penalties or such.
5) Save for a rainy day
Simply set that money aside so that you would always just have that little extra in your account. Maybe you’ll even get to reach the privileged account status at your bank.
6) Experience something new or tick off something off your New Years Resolutions list.
Are there activities or places that you’ve been telling yourself for years now that ‘oh I should try that’ — but never actually made a move toward it thinking it’s too extravagant or too out-of-reach?
This may just be the perfect opportunity to plan for that.
I love coupon / deal sites such as Deal Grocer when I’m looking for something new to try. They have a good selection of partners that offer experiences and getaways. I also look at hotels or resorts directly if they have discount or membership cards.
7) Make a change. Start by consulting with a Life Coach.
As nice as it is to share your dreams and frustrations with a friend or a colleague, or even your partner, they may not be best-equipped to help you on your way to the awesomeness you know you are destined for. Just as athletes have a coach to guide them with their training, a life coach can guide you through your list of goals, attain work-life balance, manage your career if you’ve hit a plateau, plan for a new business, or any dilemma you’re facing. If you’re ready for a change, you can ensure your personal success by getting yourself a coach. I’m not saying you’ll spend all your bonus on the coaching sessions — rather, having a coach help you work through your goals may point you in the right direction of where to invest it.
If not a life coach consultation, a personality development workshop! One of the providers I can recommend is Business Hat. My personal outlook has forever been changed for the better by its founder, Jackie, tell her Marie sent you their way.
8) Invest in continuous learning.
Did you know you can learn from world-class professors at the comfort of your home? I’m not talking about just Youtube videos – though there are a handful of good ones, and that is how I learned to play guitar back in college.
You can some really great courses such as Excel Training (and impress your boss!) or Learning to Program (and maybe change careers?) for a reasonable fee at online education companies. The quality of Lynda and Treehouse courses are top-notch. Udemy courses are also curated and be sure to check out their course reviews. Get 10 days of free unlimited access to Lynda.com.
There are also a myriad of courses you can enrol in at MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).
9) Invest in professional education or certification
Along with #8, there are some MOOCs that offer certifications for a fee that you can add to your resume or LinkedIn profile. You may also be in an industry that values acronyms appended to your name, like, say, PMP, or MBA (do people really add that?), LSLS Cert AVT, CPA, CISA, CIA, CFA, and so on. Maybe even Atty or MD or Ph.D.?
What do you think should be #10? Do you remember how you used your Christmas bonus in the past? I would love to hear about how you plan to use it this year?