Holiday BonusAfter a couple of very lean years for many businesses, the holiday bonus (as well as the company party) is back!

According to a CareerBuilder study, 45% of employers gave out bonuses in 2013, up from 33% in 2010. What a treat to get some extra dough at the end of the year.

Now, there is always that heavy temptation to buy something really fun, like a super expensive pair of shoes.

But while a splurge is sometimes ok, you may want to consider using that money in other ways. Here are a few of our best suggestions.

What You Should Do With Your Holiday Bonus

1. Save It

Don’t have an emergency fund yet? Now may be the time to start. Saving helps you create a cushion that will protect you from relying on your credit cards for unexpected expenses. Putting away your bonus may give you the savings kick start that you need.

2. Pay off debt

If you have any credit card debt or outstanding debt, this would be a nice time to square it away.  A new television would be amazing, of course, but think about starting 2015 with a clean slate — and the incredible feeling that will bring.

3. Invest it

This may be the time to get that IRA or mutual fund looking good. Not sure how to grow your money? Don’t worry – most of us aren’t. Look at your options — and talk to a financial advisor.

4. Fix Some Stuff

Is something in your house or apartment broken and in need of a fix? Think about using that bonus to get everything in tip-top (and working) shape.

5. Give it to charity

Now we aren’t saying you have to be all Bill and Melinda Gates about it but ’tis the season for giving. A little chunk of your bonus going to charity will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  Plus, you can get some major tax benefits when you give just a bit. Consult your accountant or tax preparer to determine what amount is the best for your income level.

6. Spend some of it on something fun

Teresa Dentino, CEO and Founder of The Financial 411, says a splurge can be an important part of your investment strategy — and an incentive to keep on track with your financial goals. Don’t blow the entire thing — but a little treat can be a reminder of your hard work.

solid reminder of all my hard work, be it even so modest as a lovely potted plant, or something more grand, like a piece of jewelry. – See more at: http://gogirlfinance.com/career/investing-in-you-why-a-splurge-is-an-important-part-of-your-strategy/#sthash.EKjltn9M.dpuf
solid reminder of all my hard work, be it even so modest as a lovely potted plant, or something more grand, like a piece of jewelry. – See more at: http://gogirlfinance.com/career/investing-in-you-why-a-splurge-is-an-important-part-of-your-strategy/#sthash.EKjltn9M.dpuf
solid reminder of all my hard work, be it even so modest as a lovely potted plant, or something more grand, like a piece of jewelry. – See more at: http://gogirlfinance.com/career/investing-in-you-why-a-splurge-is-an-important-part-of-your-strategy/#sthash.EKjltn9M.dpuf

What if You Don’t Get That Bonus?

If you don’t get a bonus it’s certainly a bummer — but you do need to move on. Here are a few ways to deal with a no-bonus holiday.

  • Keep your attitude (somewhat) positive: It’s easy to throw a pity party, especially if your colleagues are already doing so. “The way you behave now will have later ramifications,” says Marsha Egan, CEO of Reading, Pa.-based professional coaching firm, The Egan Group Inc. “It’s career-limiting to come across as dissatisfied,” she says.
  • If you want to talk to your boss, make sure you make it about how you can help the company: Don’t go in with a reminder that the company is failing. Frame your conversation around how you can help the company. What are some things you can do to help bring bonuses back for everyone? How can you better serve the company moving forward?
  • Look for other opportunities: Don’t look at this as a time to slack off because they aren’t paying you as much as you thought they were. Everyone else may be complaining, but you can stand out for working harder.