For the first part of this series, I focused on the practical use of this cash infusion. This time, I’d like to focus on part two of my three-part series on bonus dollars. Depending on your financial situation, and bonus amount, there may not be much leftover for the happiness or fulfillment categories. While financial security is important, so is fulfillment. Therefore, with those remaining dollars, let’s talk about ways I’ve seen individuals spend their bonus to increase their happiness.
Book that family vacation – Family vacations are a great way to get out of the day to day rut and reconnect with those closest to you. I know in my life I find this a great opportunity to disconnect (as much as I am able) and focus on family. Much like the rest of us, I don’t get to see them as much as I would like. These vacations forge memories that will last a lifetime. I can honestly say the best moments of my childhood were those family vacations. They truly did, and still do, make me smile.
Date night – For this one, I’m making the assumption that we all do some form of regular date night. Since we’re talking bonus dollars here, let’s be creative and go bigger than your normal dinner and movie. Perhaps book tickets to NYC for the weekend and see a show, or go skiing if you love it, but rarely hit the slopes. These little get-a-way moments with your spouse can really give you a burst of energy to break up the monotony.
Create memories – While it overlaps with #1, there are plenty of other ways to create memories with your friends and family. Maybe use some of these funds to take the family to a concert or a sporting event. I’ve even seen some clients do a family spa day together. Whatever it is, look for the best bang for your buck, as in what will leave the biggest fulfilling smile on everyone’s face.
Charity – Many of us, myself included, are charitably inclined. This influx of cash can be great in making an impactful contribution to a cause you’re passionate about. I’ve found it’s always more rewarding to not just giving cash, but also being involved at a higher level in whatever you choose to support. This has brought me a good deal of fulfillment through the years.
Passion or hobby splurge – This one is fun to talk about. It could be a new cross country or Peloton workout bike (which is great by the way). Or that new expensive camera for your photography obsession. There are so many different things that can fall into this category. If it’s something that we love doing, then it certainly will add to our overall happiness to further support that hobby. But, make sure you ask yourself before spending if this will truly make you happier or more fulfilled, instead of just a temporary moment of enjoyment.
Home addition – I have this category on both this one and the practical blog. My distinction is the difference between needing a new roof and wanting a redo of that master bathroom. In one sense there are very utilitarian ways to spend money on your home. On the other hand, can you live with that older kitchen (for a while longer)? The caveat is, do you and the family spend all your free time in the kitchen? Is it a place to congregate together and make memories? Hopefully you see the difference. Maybe it is time to bite the bullet and freshen up that home of yours, to help get to that home-life fulfillment.
Buy something special – In this final category, I’m going to mention that this is the “big” spend. This could be that beach home, nice watch, or fancy piece of jewelry for your special someone. Assuming your finances are in order, perhaps this is the year you take some of that extra cash and make a big splash purchase. As the monetary value increases, it’s important that the level of fulfillment or happiness is also maximized. It’s a shame to waste a boat load of cash on let’s say an actual boat if you won’t truly enjoy it!
If you read the last blog in this series, you can see a real change in my tone. The last one focused on less fun, but necessary spending categories. This blog was more emotional, as I discussed ways to spend that are fulfilling. These areas should elicit a smile and happiness when you think about them. More importantly, they should actually bring joy when spending on these categories.
In his role as Financial Planner, Andrew forges lifelong relationships with clients. He coaches them through all stages of life and guides them to better achieve their life goals. Andrew loves helping others by spreading his knowledge on finance, investments, and the pursuit of happiness/fulfillment. He writes nationally recognized, weekly blog posts on these topics and is a regular contributor to Kiplinger. Andrew has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Financial Advisor Magazine, US News & World Report, USA Today, CNBC, along with many other publications.
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