Among the companies announcing worker windfalls, AT&T said it will give a $1,000 bonus to more than 200,000 U.S. employees: That applies to all union-represented, nonmanagement and front-line managers. Comcast, which owns CNBC parent NBCUniversal, also said it plans to give $1,000 bonuses to more than 100,000 eligible employees.
Sinclair Broadcast Group of Baltimore says it will give a $1,000 bonus to almost 9,000 full- and part-time regular employees, and Bank of America alerted employees in a memo obtained by CNBC that U.S. employees earning up to $150,000 annually — about 145,000 workers — will get a $1,000 bonus by the end of the year.
(See chart above for how these amounts compare with average bonuses this year.)
Meanwhile, BB&T has announced it will pay $1,200 bonuses in January to almost three-fourths of the bank's associates (about 27,000), and will raise its minimum hourly pay rate to $15 from $12, effective Jan. 1.
And Cincinnati-based bank Fifth Third said it will give $1,000 bonuses to some employees, along with increasing the minimum wage it pays workers to $15. Wells Fargo also is increasing its minimum wage to $15.
Hauer recommends taking time to contemplate your options before spending money in anticipation of extra cash not yet received.
"We start spending money in our head long before we have it," she said. "If we know — or even just think — we're getting a bonus, we tend to be less careful with our purchases and financial choices."
First things first: If you work at one of the companies awarding bonuses, check with your human resources department about your eligibility.