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Tips to Maximize Your Bonus

Most professionals in major industries in Manhattan (and not just in banking or consulting) are eagerly awaiting bonus time, which is fast approaching. Assuming that you are expecting some amount greater than zero, you may already have set plans on what do you with your bonus. Before you go splurging it on Fifth Ave. or getting yourself a table at whatever the “it” club is today, consider the following steps to make sure that you enjoy and savor the bonus you worked so hard for.


Maximize Your Bonus (Photo: iStockphoto)

Pay yourself first
Once you get your bonus paid into your Chase account (I know, so much less after taxes! It’s not fair!) take 40-50% of what’s in there and invest it in something (CD’s aren’t worth it, so check with a financial advisor for suggestions) that you can’t or won’t touch while it earns interest and generates a return. Even if you have expensive student loans to pay, don’t give the banks anything until you’ve paid yourself first. This is money you earned with your sweat and probably tears, so let it accumulate and grow for you.

Pay down any debt
Did you save a portion of your money? Good. Now you can pay the banks. Pay down high interest commercial debt first and then work your way down. Chunk payments can do wonders in reducing your monthly obligation. If you carry a balance on any card, do what you can to pay it off in full, but don’t do it at the expense of not paying yourself first.

Give to charity
For whatever reason, whether it’s karmic justice or an “invisible hand,” being open, generous and free with your money begets more money and luck coming your way. Try it and see what happens. Try to have a free and “flowing” attitude with your bonus and select a charity in which you believe. No matter the size of the contribution, anything will do. The point is to share a little with others in need.

Treat yourself
Now that you’ve paid yourself, paid debts and demonstrated your love for humankind, now treat yourself to a little something special.

What’s that? Your bonus isn’t that big? I know, I know. I’m just propagating the myth that everyone in New York gets a six figure bonus. The blunt truth? The vast majority of professionals in New York don’t get a bonus, and those that do certainly are not pulling down $100K plus in bonuses – an elite few are, and that’s why they are elite. It’s more like $10K in bonuses. Anyway, whatever your number will be, large or small, these tips can help maximize the long-term utility you can expect from your well-earned bonus.

Debra Wheatman is a certified writer and career coach who has guided the professional development of thousands of clients globally. She is reachable at

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