Clever thinking makes the most of your bonus

Clever thinking makes the most of your bonus

Last updated on 12th December, 2017 at 04:40 pm

Dreaming about your annual bonus and what to do with it? It’s all about balancing living for today and preparing for tomorrow.

For most of us an annual bonus is a lifesaver – an opportunity to get our finances on track again. If you are one of the lucky people who still receive a bonus or 13th cheque, you probably already have a good idea about spending it. Deciding how to spend your bonus is a good year-end exercise. It’s an annual opportunity to examine your finances and, of course, to have some fun. Keep a balance between living for today and preparing for tomorrow. The satisfaction of blowing the whole lot will probably not last long. Rather delay instant gratification and do some proper planning. A good idea is to divide your bonus into three categories: Fun, a good cause and your financial goals.

Giving towards a good cause

There is something very satisfying about supporting a cause that you believe in. You may decide to spend only a small amount on giving, and that is totally up to you. Making a donation can help you be more conscious of how and where you spend your money.

Fun in the sun

We are told repeatedly to save and invest. While this is excellent advice, let’s not forget that a year’s hard work lies behind us and we have earned a bit of fun and relaxation. It’s summertime and school holidays, after all. No need to feel guilty, but try not to spend more than 10% to 15% of your bonus on spoiling yourself and your family.

Financial goals

It may not feel like it right now, but using your bonus towards reaching your financial goals may be the best gift you can give yourself. Let’s have a look at some clever ideas.

Settle your debts:

Start the new year with more money in your pocket at the end of every month by paying off all your accounts and cards. You will also save loads on interest payments. This will only work if you don’t tally up debt again!


If you don’t have debts to settle, here is your chance for making a good profit over the years to come with a one-time investment. For example: Say you have R10 000 available to invest after fun and giving. This could change into the following if invested wisely with the help of a financial planner:

R10 000 invested over 10 years at a return of 8% = R21 589

R10 000 over 20 years at a return of 10% = R67 275

R10 000 over 40 years at a return of 10% = R425 593

R10 000 over 40 years at a return of 12% = R930 510

The different percentages are simply an example of the return you could get on your investment. It all depends on the rate at which your money grows, which in turn depends on how the stock exchange fares, since all investments are based on the stock market in one way or another. But you get the idea. Now imagine doing that with part of your bonus every year. Likewise, buying life insurance will make a huge difference to you and your loved ones should the future not work out the way you planned. This can turn out to be a worthy investment, as well as a well-intentioned contribution to your family’s future.


Plan for the longest month of the year:

Yes, we are talking about January. Those who have children know only too well how many extra expenses you have to take into account at the start of a new year: school fees, new uniforms, books, sporting equipment, and upcoming school tours are just a few to keep in mind.


Improve your home:

That new coat of paint, kitchen or patio area means that you are spending your bonus on something you can enjoy throughout the year while, at the same time, adding value to your home. Smart idea.


Start an emergency fund:

Yawn, I know… But remember the trouble you were in when your car’s head gasket blew, or when your geyser burst and you had to fork out that insurance excess payment?


Enhance your skills:

Spend some money on a course to improve your skills. We live in perilous times as far as job security goes and lay-offs are not unthinkable. Don’t just rely on your employer to pay for training. It may even help you to move up the corporate ladder and earn more in the future or open other doors in the job market. So, this festive season, make a point not to blow your bonus on the first thing that comes to mind. Prepare a rational plan, and you and your family should benefit from your clever thinking for years to come!


By Helen Ueckermann


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