If you work for Disney, Walmart or any company giving out bonuses, here's what to do with the money

The smartest and dumbest things to do with your unexpected corporate bonus

On Tuesday, Disney announced a one-time cash bonus of $1,000 for over 125,000 employees. Walmart, Comcast and AT&T made similar moves following the passage of the tax bill.

If you're one of the lucky recipients of a cash bonus, there are smart and not-so-smart ways to handle it.

While it may be tempting to blow the small windfall on something fun, excessive spending isn't the best move. Here are eight options that will be better in the long run and could feel good today, too:

1. Beef up your 401(k)

Ideally you're already putting money into your 401(k) retirement account if you have the option, but, if possible, you'll also want to get in the habit of increasing your contributions consistently. A bonus is a great opportunity to do so.

2. Invest in another retirement savings account

Enrolling in your employer's 401(k) plan is a good start, but experts say that it may not provide enough to fund your future. It's smart to consider alternate retirement savings accounts too, such as a Roth IRA, traditional IRA and/or health savings account.

Direct your extra money towards one of those options. Bonus points if you set up automatic contributions so your account continues to grow over time.

Here's how much you should save at every age

3. Pay off any lingering debt

If you have student loans, car loans or credit card debt, a bonus can be a great way to get out of the red more quickly. Especially if the interest rate on your debt is high, getting rid of your loans as fast as possible will help you avoid paying thousands of dollars of interest.

4. Build an emergency fund

Experts agree that it's smart to have three-to-six months' worth of savings tucked away, or even more, to help protect you in case of disaster. Use your bonus to get closer to that goal.

Suze Orman explains how much money you'll need to have when an emergency happens

5. Open a 529 savings plan

If you have kids, you may want to consider opening a 529 savings plan to start putting money away for their schooling. Education costs are already out of control and are only getting more expensive.

A 529 plan allows a parent to contribute up to $14,000 a year — $28,000 for a couple — for certain types of school, including college and elementary through high school costs. Use your bonus to make your first contribution, or add to an existing plan.

6. Chip away at larger savings goals

Chances are, big purchases are in your future, such as a home, car, grad school or vacation. Use the extra money to get a head start on saving. Months or years from now, you'll be glad you did.

Cramer: 3 lessons for young investors

7. Consider other investment vehicles

Investing is one of the most effective ways to build wealth, and an unexpected bonus is a good opportunity to jump in. Look into automated investing services known as robo-advisors, or low-cost index funds, which investing legend Warren Buffett and billionaire Mark Cuban recommend.

8. Invest in yourself

One of the best investments you can make is in yourself. Take your bonus and use it to further your education by enrolling in a course, attending a business conference or investing in books.

Additionally, invest in your health. Consider making room in your budget for a gym membership, exercise classes or a fitness-magazine subscription. Taking care of your future isn't the easiest thing to do, but your future self will thank you.

Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC and

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