It’s end-of-the-year-bonus time, people. And the temptation to buy out the entire shoe department at Neiman Marcus is all too real. So here’s the deal: Go splurge on a pair (the general recommendation is that you can spend up to 20 percent of your bonus on yourself), then do this with the rest.
1. Contribute to a 401(k) or IRA. If you haven’t maxed out your 401(k) contribution, you absolutely should--especially if your company matches it. Otherwise, open an IRA (either traditional or Roth) and start squirreling away for retirement. Because you deserve to be sipping wine in Tuscany when you’re 80.
2. Invest in the kids. College is expensive--and only getting more so. If you’re a parent, start a 529 Plan, which is a savings account for future college costs that is tax-free and can be used in various capacities for kids later in life.
3. Pay off bad debt. This one is a no-brainer. Pay off those pesky credit cards bills or personal loans once and for all.
4. Donate to charity. Making charitable contributions to qualified 501(c)(3) nonprofits is both heartwarming and tax-deductible--just ask for a receipt. Think of local charities that need financial help year-round, such as the Family Place, which provides a safe haven for victims of domestic violence; North Texas Food Bank, where $1 provides three meals for the hungry;and Operation Kindness, which provides shelter, food and care for animals in North Texas.