Bonuses. These little lump-sums of magical wonder are the highlight of some employees year. They are the thank you for all your hard work and can be a nice little surprise if you were not expecting one. While I never banked on getting a bonus (or included it in my budget) I was really happy that I got one.
Now I know what you are thinking. You’ve never participated in a performance review? And the answer is yes I have, for the past seven years. My first job out of University was for an audit firm and over the course of my three years there, I got a total of $750 in bonuses. And I only received that amount after I had left. Which is weird but I appreciated the money because it came in handy when I got it. However, looking back on my time with that company, I still would’ve been unhappy coming into work even if I had gotten a large bonus. I hated that place.
Then my next job was in Government and civil servants do not get bonuses. Although I heard a rumour that if you got the highest rating you can receive a $1,000 bonus. But I never heard of someone actually getting the highest rating so there is no way to tell if it is just a rumour or fact. Either way, I never got one.
Anyway fast forward to this little slice of work heaven and here I am getting what I would consider my first real bonus. I really thought about going to the bank and withdrawing the money in singles so I could make “snow angels” in my living room, but I decided not to. Although I thought it would be fun. Seeing that amount of money in my bank account was the most amazing feeling and it left me with my first big financial decision of 2018. For the past three months, my decisions and finances have been on autopilot. But now I had some thinking to do. I mean I could have splurged and blown it all on shopping or saved. I could have planned the most over the top trip where we fly first class and stay in a really expensive villa for a week while eating and drinking nothing but the finest or saved. And while the former is crazy and spontaneous and you know.. YOLO, I’m not that crazy and decided to use the money to help me reach some of the goals I wanted to accomplish in 2018. Basically… I saved it.
With that being said, the very first thing I did was put 5% of it into my emergency fund. That percentage may not seem like a lot but every little bit helps and by the end of 2018, the fund should be (probably will be if no emergencies happen) fully funded with six months worth of expenses. Now for me, having six months worth is enough to feel financially secure about emergencies. For others, three months or a full year may be their magic number. All I know is if an emergency happens I will be covered and will be financially prepared.
With all my savings goals on track, I figured that since I worked hard, I need to play just as hard and enjoy at least a portion of it, so that is why the next thing I did was put aside 15% to cover some of the cost of this year’s Anniversary trip. This year’s spot has to begin with the letter ‘B’. It could be a city or a country – there are no real rules aside from the place has to start with a specific letter. I am thinking maybe Brazil or Barcelona or Barbados. Once we have decided, I am going to try and travel hack this trip as much as possible because I don’t want to overspend as we have another trip to plan for in December. I am estimating that our anniversary trip will probably be about $4,500 (which I/we don’t want to spend or have even with adding in the 15%).
Lastly, I really want to have enough saved so that we can purchase our first home by the end of this year or mid-2019 at the latest. So I have been putting every extra cent I have towards this goal so that is why I am putting the bulk of the bonus (80%) towards the down payment fund. I am not trying to purchase a million dollar home or a home that has every amenity known to man. But I want a home that we can call our own and that is no more than $500,000. Between you and me, if I can find one for even less I would be super happy! Right now we have about 10% saved, with the ultimate goal being 20%. And adding the majority of my bonus will help boost the balance.
So there you have it! Nothing exciting or extravagant. Maybe next year, if I am fortunate enough to get one, I will spend it all on every and anything. Just kidding… I will save it.