The month of annual bonuses seems like paradise when we start planning in advance on how to spend it. This excitement will get us into impulses of spending on things that give momentary pleasure only. This leaves us regretting for our decisions later. Wise money management and productively using annual bonuses will help us to take care of not just present needs but also of future needs and contingencies.
My idea of being a financially prudent and smart person would involve wise money management of bonus according to the life’s priorities and expenses. It is true worldwide that living in uncertain economic times after the global economic turndown, we all need to learn powerful lessons on wise money management. Every individual has his/her own peculiar set of priorities, but I believe that some suggestions would be well appreciated by all.
Ways that have helped in wise money management of annual bonuses include:
- Tax planning has and will always play a role in saving taxes and making meaningful investments for the future such as investing in mutual funds, fixed deposits and insurance related investments to save taxes under Section 80C. However I would suggest investing in mutual funds is best done through Systematic Investment Plans (SIP) or Systematic Transfer Plans (STP) that is best accomplished with opting for systematic transfer of funds kept in a savings bank account spread over a year. This helps to take advantage of market fluctuations and get good returns.
- I am sure we all realize the great benefit of living a life free of debt, than having to worry about expensive loans taken like credit card debts, personal loans, and low priced loans like education loans, home loans and vehicle loans. The priority should be on utilizing annual bonuses to first pay off loans carrying a high rate of interest, with it giving the advantage of saving on higher amount of money being paid towards interest on such loans.
- Life has never been certain and it is futile to expect it to be certain at any time, so wise money management needs to take care of unexpected and expected contingencies that could arise at any time. Being financial smart requires every person to set aside at least 3 to 4 months of one’s monthly income for contingencies like loss of job, illness, and accidents that could leave you in a financial crunch for a few months. This is best accomplished with setting aside some portion of the annual productivity bonus towards the maintenance of a contingency fund in the form of liquid and semi liquid funds like mutual funds and bank deposits.
- “Live in the present” is what many psychologists would tell you, but I would say it is best to take lessons from our past mistakes and set the stage to meet some of our future expenses and financial goals. The past is gone and would never come back again, but it is never too late to start saving for future goals like retirement, higher education of children, their marriage or maybe your goal to start a consultancy business based on your experiences. This requires carefully planning the period that you would not need the money and setting aside a portion of your annual productivity bonus in bonds and mutual funds with the correct allocation between equity and debt to meet your needs.
However I do not mean to say that enjoying life or luxuries like a dream vacation, an LCD TV or home theater should not be your cup of tea, because all of us earn and perform well at work to live life and not just to exist as some suppose. Enjoy your annual bonus king size with planning your financial priorities with the advice of your financial planner.
The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Founder and Director of Holistic Investment Planners (www.holisticinvestment.in) a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.