CFI Blog

Spend Your Bonus Before You Receive It

“A wage hike is very hard to take away, but bonuses and profit-sharing can disappear very quickly in hard times…More people are realizing that bonuses look like raises, but really aren’t.”
–Al Bauman

The common maxim of paying yourself first is all well and good for your paycheck, but what happens when you get a bonus? Your boss sits down with you for your end-of-year review, you’ve done well, and you’re going to get a bonus. If you don’t approach that bonus with some intentionality, then you’re going to find out that the bonus is gone and you really don’t have anything to show for it. The future you bang his head against the wall in agony at your profligacy.

What to do?

Believe it or not, your gender, as this Harvard study shows, determines what you should do to stick to your plan.

First off, regardless of your sex, make a plan for what you want to do with that bonus. Some of the plans should go to spending on rewards for yourself so that you maintain your motivation to keep up a good job and to stick to your investment plans.

Here’s where your actions change depending on your sex.

Your gender affects what you need to do to succeed at a plan.

If you’re a female, tell your friends what you’re going to do. Women are more committed when emotionally sharing with a social network, and this makes them more likely to stick to a goal.

If you’re a male, write down how you’re going to spend the money. Focusing on a written plan will anchor future goal-based behaviors, increasing the chances of hitting that goal.

Having a plan is only as good as abiding by that plan. So, when the bonus rolls in or when you raise the glass of champagne to toast a New Year, don’t forget to either share or write down those plans; otherwise, you’ll wonder what happened to your money and your future self will want to come back and smack you.

What do you do to not spend your bonus all at once and let Monkey Brain win? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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Author Profile

John Davis
John Davis is a nationally recognized expert on credit reporting, credit scoring, and identity theft. He has written four books about his expertise in the field and has been featured extensively in numerous media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, CNN, CBS News, CNBC, Fox Business, and many more. With over 20 years of experience helping consumers understand their credit and identity protection rights, John is passionate about empowering people to take control of their finances. He works with financial institutions to develop consumer-friendly policies that promote financial literacy and responsible borrowing habits.

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