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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 CNBC.com.
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Video by Jonathan Fazio