If you’re trying to decide what to do with your year-end bonus, consider yourself lucky. This is a golden opportunity — take advantage of it.
Resist temptation: “When most people get bonuses, they’ll spend it on something congratulatory. I’m all for giving yourself a pat on the back, but I recommend getting something that will congratulate you back for a lifetime,” says Elle Kaplan, CEO of LexION Capital Management in Manhattan. “A new phone or jewelry might seem appealing, but you’re better off opening or adding to an investment account that keeps on giving — towards your future.”
Reduce debt: Michael Mondiello, a financial adviser in Manhasset, has three words of advice: “Pay down debt. The markets are unpredictable, but you know how much you owe. Use any bonus to take a bite out of mortgage or car payments.” Prioritize credit card debt. If you have money racked up on a high-interest card, use your bonus to lower your balance or pay it off, says Leslie Tayne, a financial attorney in Melville. Start or add to an emergency fund: This chunk of money will help get you going. If you already have a fund, toss at least a portion of your bonus into the mix. “Make sure you have a minimum of three months of living expenses readily available,” says Peter Creedon, CEO of Crystal Brook Advisors in Mount Sinai.
Invest in yourself: Attend a seminar or conference that will increase your personal or professional knowledge, advises Dorethia Keller, president of Conner Financial Coaching in Warren, Michigan.
Go ahead, treat yourself. Says Tayne, “Spend 10 percent on a spontaneous vacation; you earned it.”