How do you know that the Christmas season is here? There’s cheer and magic around every corner. The air is buzzing with festive tunes and golden light. But to be more specific, you know it’s really Christmas when the 13th month pay and other year-end bonuses arrive. A sure fire way to get you down this merry season, however, is to find that you’ve spent every last bit of your bonus even before December had a chance to roll around. Here’s some expert advice on how to do the opposite of that. Here’s how to spend your 13th month pay wisely.
1. Prioritize “The best place to start is to plan ahead,” saidBarbara Stanny, financial expert and bestselling author.
The first thing you should do when you get your bonus is to make a list. What are you going to spend it on? Put the most urgent and important items on the top of the list. Will it be used for bills payment, the Christmas gift budget or the Noche Buena budget? Or will you be distributing it out to cover everything? Don’t buy on a whim just because you have the money for it. Ask yourself before buying anything if you actually need it or not.
2. Keep a close eye on it “I think the biggest mistake people make, myself included, is not knowing where their money is going,” said Glen Craig, founder of FreeFromBroke.com.
Make a breakdown of your expenses. If you’re making a gift list, know how much you’re going to spend for each present and stick to it. Whenever you buy something that’s cheaper or more expensive than what you’ve initially jotted down, make a note of it on your gift list budget. This way you’ll know exactly where everything is going, leaving no unexpected money disappearances.
3. Don’t touch it “Set it and forget it,” said Carla Blair-Gamblian, loan Consultant and credit expert at Veterans United Home Loans.
Place a good portion of your bonus in your savings instead. This is the wisest way to “spend” your bonus. If you can put all of it in your family’s emergency savings, even better. You’ll be glad to find money in the bank when an unforeseen emergency pops up.
4. Cash it “For one month, make all your purchases in cash, avoiding credit cards at all costs,” said Andrew Fiebert, founder of ListenMoneyMatters.com.
If you’re going to spend your 13th month pay, spend it using cash. “Studies show you will be much more apprehensive of purchases you don't need if you can actually feel the cash leaving your hands,” Fiebert said. “It's often way too easy to swipe a card and walk out, so a great way to curb overspending is to put even the smallest barrier in between you and the purchase.”
5. Spend, but cut back too. “Frugality isn’t about cutting your spending on everything. That approach wouldn't last two days. Frugality, quite simply, is about choosing the things you love enough to spend extravagantly on—and then cutting costs mercilessly on the things you don't love,” said Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich.
Treat your family to a hearty dinner. Buy your children the Christmas gifts they deserve. Splurge on your partner, buy that watch he’s been ogling in the shop window since August. But afterwards, balance it all out by quitting your Starbucks habit for a month. Stop buying shoes that only end up gathering dust in your closet. Don’t be kuripot. Be wise.
Sources: Undated. "40 Money Tips from Professionals". tradingacademy.com Sept. 9, 2015. "16 Savings Tips From Today's Top Personal Finance Experts". msn.com Dec. 8, 2014. "How to stop stressing over holiday spending". cbsnews.com