If you’re like the rest of us, it’s probably been a year of financial hardship, as well as emotional- and health difficulties. In fact, if you still have a job towards the end of 2020, you’re probably counting yourself pretty lucky right now. Typically, December is a time of looking forward to company bonuses or 13th cheques, that “golden” ticket which makes a welcome addition to your financial pot, something you’ve worked hard for all year. You may even budget each year to receive one, in order to cover December expenses like holidays, gifts and more. But will you actually get one this year? Are you one of the lucky few? And if you do, what’s the wisest thing to do with it?
Here are some ideas:
1. Settle your debts
This is fundamental if you want to get yourself on the right track to financial freedom. After all, it’s impossible to save if you’re servicing debt every month; even worse if you get into a debt spiral, borrowing money to pay off other borrowed money. Rather use this bonus to pay off any medical bills, school fees you owe, or your credit card. Then you can realign your financial plans and start saving.
2. Emergency fund
If you’re out of debt, next it’s time to set up an emergency fund. While this can vary depending on your lifestyle and financial needs, the basic rule of thumb is to have 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses saved up to cover those rainy days. It’s best to put this in an interest earning savings account where the cash can be accessed relatively quickly, should you need it.
3. Pay off your home loan
If you’re looking for the responsible thing to do, bringing down your home loan is a key consideration since it’s literally the roof over your head. By bringing down your mortgage, you’re reducing the interest you pay, and also reducing your monthly expenses, giving you more room to save or invest in your financial future. Also, if you have an access bond, you can always get hold of the money should you need it again, which gives you peace of mind due to the flexibility.
4. Don’t forget about January
Because most of us get paid super early in December, the time it takes to get to our January pay cheques can feel like eternity. Plus, there are often loads of bills to pay in early January like school fees, uniforms and car servicing. Make sure you have budgeted for these, possibly using your 13th cheque to pay in advance for some of them, so that when January arrives you aren’t in for a big shock.
5. Treat yourself (just a little bit)
2020 has been a slog and we understand that there’s an urge to splurge right now. But hold your horses. There’s no point in blowing your whole 13th cheque on the down payment for an overpriced car or buying a whole new wardrobe – only to cause yourself more stress in the long run. Instead we’re talking about doing something meaningful to reward yourself for your hard work – something small that makes you feel good about all the time you’ve put in. Maybe it’s a night out with your partner or spouse, a spa treatment, or one new piece of clothing. After all, you do deserve a small treat.
We hope these ideas help you make financially savvy choices with your 13th cheque this year. Use it wisely – you’re one of the lucky few to receive one.
Leave your comments below.
Until next time.
The Wise About Life team