6 Ways to Make the Most of Your Year End Bonus

If you're one of the many who are lucky enough to receive a year end bonus, you may be tempted to go on a shopping spree and hope to have some money leftover. You do deserve to have some fun, especially after a year of working hard, but blowing a chunk of your bonus can make you have some major regrets later on regardless of how much you enjoy what you buy. 

Instead of spending that cash on clothes and luxuries, consider your year end bonus a chance to make some big changes with your finances. Those extra hundreds or thousands of dollars can not only improve your current financial health, but it can encourage you to make smarter financial decisions in the future. 

Once you make one or two improvements, even if it's just paying off one or two bills, it can cause you to almost be addicted to making smarter money choices. 

When you make your year end bonus work for you, it can set into effect your financial actions for the  rest of the new year. Smart choices and inspiration can do wonders. So what are some ways to make the most of your year end bonus?

Put the Money Into Savings

I highly recommend taking the money out of your checking account and putting it right into savings. Leaving it in your checking creates pure temptation to use your ATM card or debit card to make unnecessary purchases simply because you know the money is in there. Put the money into savings and you can decide what to do with it while it earns interest. 

Pay Off Past Due Bills

If you have a past due bill or two, your year end bonus came at just the right time. Buy personal checks and immediately pay off the bills, or set up online bill payment options. Whether it's a doctor bill or a credit card bill, and that's going to be a huge weight off your shoulders. Don't forget to call and let the companies know you sent in the payment so they're expecting it and won't send you to collection in the process. 

Pay it Forward to Charity 

Put some of your good fortune to good use by donating some money to charity. You'll feel great about your contribution, especially if you wanted to donate money around the holidays and didn't have any extra to give. Don't forget to hold onto the receipt as it may also be considered a tax deduction. 

Contribute to Your 401k

What better way to use your year end bonus than by putting some of it toward your 401k? It's even better if your employer matches contributions. Even if you only contribute a little, it's better than nothing. 

Pay Off Your Credit Cards

Considering how much interest can rack up, your best bet is to use a chunk of your year end bonus to pay off some of your credit cards. It might not sound like much fun, but you'll be grateful for your decision once you see the lower balance. 

Do a Little Indulging

After you've allocated your money to bills and savings, it's time to use some of it for pure pleasure!  You earned every cent of that money and there's no reason why you shouldn't thoroughly enjoy at least a little of it. 

Here are some smart personal purchases that can go a long way:

 1. Take a weekend vacation– As long as you're not planning on gambling all your cash away or spending frivolously, a weekend away can be a nice little break for you and a great way to relax, celebrate the start of a new year and reward yourself for a job well done.

2. Take a class– If there's a class you've been meaning to take for a while, whether it's a cooking class or art class, use your year end bonus to help develop your knowledge in an area you love.

3. Get a massage– I'm a huge fan of massages, but the big cost can be off-putting. However, your year-end bonus is the perfect chance to indulge a bit and treat your body.

4. Buy new clothing– This isn't to say you should go on a giant shopping spree, but most of us have clothing items we've been needing for a while that we've been putting off buying in order to put our funds toward more important things. Buy new sneakers, new underwear or stock up on work shirts, but don't hesitate to buy yourself a belated Christmas gift.

5. Go to the doctor– I've heard numerous people say that they've been putting off going to the doctor, the dentist or to the eye doctor because they don't have the extra money to spend. Little do they realize that this usually adds to higher costs later on if problems aren't initially taken care of. Invest in your health and schedule some doctor appointments.

Although you don't want to run out and spend your year end bonus right away, you also don't want to take too long to decide what to do with it. It's going to be a giant temptation and it could be put to better use rather than just have it sit there. Consider yourself lucky for your bonus and get started on allocating your funds before it burns a hole in your pocket. 

Bio: As a freelancer for several years, Lauren Romano has written about numerous topics ranging from finance to fashion. She gains inspiration for her work from almost everywhere whether it's browsing or viewing humor sites. Lauren has a deep love of Christmas and sour jelly beans.

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