The holiday season is here and that may mean a holiday bonus or cash gift for some of us. While it may be tempting to spend it quickly and maybe even frivolously, take a step back to consider some of these ideas that can help each bonus dollar go further. Here are five ways to make the most of any extra money you receive this holiday season.
Pay Down Existing Debts
Eliminating the burden of debt is a terrific gift to give yourself! It’s always worthwhile to take advantage of any opportunity to make an extra payment to get ahead. A bonus or cash gift could provide the funds needed to pay off a credit card balance in its entirety or put a sizable chunk of change toward the principal of a student loan. For a dose of added encouragement, put the money toward your smallest debt. This will either bring you a step closer to paying something off entirely or erase some debt right away. Money regularly paid toward that debt can be rolled into the next lowest amount owed to pay off other financial obligations faster with the help of some extra momentum. Before you know it, you could be debt-free!
Boost Long-term Savings
A vacation may bring instant gratification, but a dependable savings solution will provide more peace of mind for the long haul. Consider contributing funds to an existing retirement account for an added push toward a comfortable future or open a new savings account to financially prepare for an impending expense, such as a new vehicle or home renovation. Using the extra cash to prepare for what’s to come may not feel rewarding immediately, but when the time comes for your savings to play its part, you’ll be happy those additional funds were set aside.
Increase the Value of Your Home
Owning a home is an ongoing investment. Although it can be frustrating at times, paying for repairs and renovations as they are needed is the best way to ensure a lucrative return when the time comes to sell. No matter the size of the holiday bonus or cash gift, there is likely a home project that can be accomplished at that price point. Give a few rooms a fresh coat of paint, update the fixtures in the kitchen, or save it for when springtime arrives and give the backyard a revamp. Bigger projects may give bigger returns, but even small projects can keep a house looking and functioning at its best.
Pay for Something Practical
As unexciting as it sounds, sometimes the best thing to do with extra money is to put it toward something practical. Maybe new tires are needed for the family vehicle or it’s finally time to purchase a more energy-efficient appliance. Although these may not be ideal ways to treat yourself, covering these types of costs with the extra cash now can be a relief knowing a purchase or task that would normally get pushed to the back burner was taken care of.
Invest in Yourself
A price tag can’t be put on your overall health and well-being, but sometimes bettering yourself can be pricey. Perhaps a new piece of exercise equipment has caught your eye or the newest model of a fitness watch was just released. Receiving additional cash can provide the means to purchase something that will push you closer toward your goals. An investment like this may even reduce future health-related expenses down the road.
The holidays tend to be the busiest of seasons, which in turn results in higher expenses, so take time to evaluate how to be proactive when it comes to your money. Seemingly small decisions can pave the way for a stronger financial outlook. This may mean saying no to a shopping spree or vacation, but avoiding temptations may be a worthwhile choice in the greater scheme of things.