Extra money is awesome! Tax refunds, birthday checks and bonuses can make a world of difference in your finances as well as your mood. Before you head out to the mall or hop on Amazon, take a moment to think through the best way to spend that money. After all, overspending can cause problems with credit card debt later. Here are 10 ways to spend a bonus check that can help your personal finances.
List of 10 Ways to Spend a Bonus Check
If you aren’t sure how to spend your bonus check, we have some options for you! The following list also gives some insight into what your priority should be. Everyone’s situation is different. Read through the list and our explanations to help you decide the best strategy for your needs.
$1,000 Rainy Day Fund
The number one recommendation (and our credit counseling advice to everyone in general) is to build up a rainy day fund. Having $1,000 in cash, ready to use in a tight spot, can actually save you from getting into debt down the road. You never know when you’ll have unexpected car trouble or plumbing trouble at your house. It’s good to have $1,000 in cash for these unforeseen circumstances.
Next, you can use the bonus check to knock out some of your debt. Extra payments are great for credit card payoff. Seeing your balance go down also provides some motivation to keep going.
Another great way to use extra money is to save an emergency fund. This should be 3-6 months of cash to cover all major living expenses. Medical emergencies, loss of job or another major life event can make a big impact on income. Having a sizable emergency fund can help avoid bankruptcy and credit card debt by keeping things afloat.
Repay Family & Friends
Do you owe anyone money? This is the perfect time to repay those debts. Maybe kick in a bit extra if you are feeling extra grateful.
Home Improvement Project
Get something done around your home that will bring value to resale. Additionally, consider a project that has a lot of utility- like updating the electrical panel or replace an older appliance that uses a lot of energy.
Invest in Your Retirement
It’s always good to focus on retirement. Give your investment a boost! Just remember, if you contribute to an IRA, there are limits to how much you can contribute per year. The IRS won’t like if you contribute above that limit!
Save for a Down Payment
A bonus check could make a big dent in the amount of money you need for a down payment. The bigger the down payment, the less mortgage you need. Try to save that 20% to avoid PMI.
Start a College Fund
If your debt is gone and retirement is looking good, think about helping your kids with a college fund. Most likely they will need some type of job training in the future at a university, apprenticeship or trade school. You could start a 529 Plan or simply invest it in the stock market.
Use it for a Vacation
Maybe your family is really, really needing a vacation. Nothing wrong with using this money to get you there. However, it is wise to pay off debt and have savings before spending money on a big trip.
Save for Next Semester Expenses
This money could cover your textbooks, supplies and a few other expenses if you are in college or heading there next semester.
No matter what your needs are, try to give yourself a small savings boost and then eliminate consumer debt.
If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today.