Maximizing Bonuses

Using Big Money to get you Financial Freedom

Best Way to Use your Holiday Bonus

What are you doing with your holiday bonus?

Many people get a large or small bonus around this time of year. Its super tempting to go and spend it all on something fun or even something you think you “need”. Especially when its a performance-based bonus its easy to convince yourself that you “deserve” to spend all of it on something really fun or frivolous.

But, you know what you really deserve? The biggest gift you can give yourself and your family?

Financial freedom and security.

Plan Ahead for Maximum Responsibility

BEFORE you get a bonus or other large amounts of “extra money” is the best time to decide where it should go to make the most meaningful impact on your finances. Large amounts can make the biggest dents in any debt or savings goal and has the added bonus (get it?) of making you feel like your making real progress. Small amounts DO add up but its much harder to see the progress.

Are you one of the lucky few to get a holiday bonus this year? Fingers crossed that I get one this year!

So… what to do with that extra cash?

Here is what I suggest:

If you have a lot of debt then the best thing to do is to put it towards that. Large amounts can really move the needle on your debt repayment plan and will lower your overall interest paid pretty significantly. Put it all towards one of your bills. You can put it towards the debt with the highest-interest rate or you can follow the Snowball Plan and put towards the smallest debt you have. But whichever debt you decided to pay off- put it there! Even if you are not in a strict paying off debt mode- paying off debt is one of the best ways to free up money and reach financial security and freedom.

If you don’t have any debt (good for you!) then you have some options (isn’t it great to have choices!?)

  1. First of all, take off 10% and put it towards charity. I always make charity a priority in my life. I have a few organizations that I like to give too and I also give to individuals who I personally know are struggling.
  2. Take 15% and put it in your savings ladder.

Now this is where the choices and decisions begin:

Maximize Holiday Bonus Pin
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Why I Don’t Recommend No-Spend Days

No-Spend Days? Why They Don’t Work

What is a No-Spend Day?


No-spend days or spending fasts are times when you make a promise to yourself not to spend money on certain days or certain periods of time.

There are some people who find these to be very effective.

Case in Point:

A Year of Tracking No Spend Days (and the privilege of doing so) by Tread Lightly, Retire Early

How I Bought No Clothes For Over A Year & Lessons From My Clothing Ban by M @Radical Fire

If you have tried these and they work for you then great!

But here is why I advise NOT to do a spending diet.

Using Motivation To Help You Change

We like to think that making big, bold moves will help us. We like to imagine ourselves doing a complete overhaul of our lives within days. TODAY I will change. TODAY I will become the person I want to be. I will become more organized, on top of my finances, more mindful, a better person etc. We want to be all those things and we WANT IT NOW! We usually feel like this after a particularly motivating experience. A motivating experience can either be something positive or negative that convinces us that we must change our behavior. The problem with motivational experiences is that they give us a temporary “high”. We get all gung-ho to change and improve but then the high wears off, we face an obstacle, we fail at what we are doing and we give up.

Motivation is temporary. As Zig Ziglar so famously said, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing-that’s why we recommend it daily”. Its a good quote and true on many levels. The problem is that unlike bathing we can’t just jump in the shower every time we need a good dose of motivation. It has to come from somewhere and sometimes even our trusty sources of motivation let us down.

Motivation is like a shower that only works sometimes, when we least expect it and sometimes the water is cold and sometimes the water doesn’t come at all- even if we are standing and screaming at the shower head. So the metaphor doesn’t totally track but the point is that motivation wear off and then you are left with what exactly? The high is gone, the purpose is gone-we are only left with the actions that we have taken so far.

Have You Ever Physically Fasted?

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Give Yourself the Gift of TIME

The Greatness of Doing NOTHING

Realizing That its Not Always About Doing Something

We all work hard. We all deserve some self-care. Recently there has been a increase of conversations regarding “self-care” and how everyone, especially women and mothers, HAVE to make time for self-care. The days of martyrdom are gone. We know understand that it important, nay, CRUCIAL, for mothers to take time for themselves- to DO something for themselves.

There are so many ways to “do self-care” that are cheap or free. You can take baths, you can exercise, drink a yummy coffee, watch a movie etc. I feel like sometimes I bombarded with this. Take an exercise class! By that drink! Eat that chocolate! Sometimes I feel like there are moments when I feel stressed out about the self-care that I haven’t done. Have I taken care of myself today? Am I prioritizing myself? I MUST go exercise, I MUST find a friend to have coffee with. Its almost become another thing on my to-do list.

The other night I was exhausted. I had a long day at work, the kids were less than optimally behaved. My hips hurt from being pregnant. All day long I had promised myself a hot bath at the end of the day. The problem was that at the end of the day, when the kids were asleep, the kitchen cleaned, lunches packed, I DIDN’T want to take a bath. I was too tired and worn-out to do all the things to get ready for a bath. I know its not exactly a laundry list full of things but I felt like even that was too much. I felt like screaming at myself ”YOU ENJOY THIS! WHY WON’T YOU DO THIS FOR YOURSELF?!”. So in the spirit of “self-care” and “taking care of myself” and “putting myself first” I dragged myself to the bath, filled it up, put in some bath salts to soak and got in. it was nice. Baths always feel good and when I got out of the bath I felt like I had completed my self-care of the day. Now that my checklist for the day was over I could get into bed and go to sleep.

I didn’t feel good though. I didn’t feel taken care of. I didn’t feel relaxed or happy. I felt pressured. I felt forced. I felt like my “self-care” was making me more stressed out than ever before. So I thought to myself, ”What did I really want to do tonight? What would really make me happy” and I honestly couldn’t think of anything I wanted to do. There was nothing I wanted to do for ME. There was nothing that would make me feel good and taken care of. And then it was if a light bulb hit. I DIDN’T WANT TO DO ANYTHING. In fact, what I wanted to do was NOTHING. Hats right. I didn’t want to take care of myself. I didn’t want to do something “nice” for myself. I wanted to do NOTHING. Absolutely zero. Zilch. No bath, no walk, no talking to a friend, no piece of chocolate, no watching a TV show, no reading a book, no mediating. Nothing. I want to sit and be. Maybe browse my phone, maybe think about things, maybe not. Maybe just sit and zone out and do NOTHING.
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