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How to Use a Windfall

Wednesday marks 6 months at my job and makes me eligible for the second half of my signing bonus. It’s nice to know that I am now a full employee and eligible for all of the benefits as everyone else. I’m actually not sure which I’m more excited about. But what should I do with the extra money? It’s not much, but it is enough that I can spend it in a variety of ways and get a lot out of it.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

I can:

  • Stick it all in my emergency savings and build up the $5,000 fund about 2 months sooner than expected.
  • Buy a decent new HDTV for the apartment. Or clothing
  • Pay down some of my debt.
  • Invest it.

I am already on a regular investing plan and feel that bumping that up isn’t necessary. If I’m going to go that route, I might as well pay off some of my student loans. However, my student loans are at $23,000 and a small hit to that won’t make much difference in my life. Paying it off 5 months early doesn’t sound like much when that 5 months will happen many years from now.

I want to spend it in ways that I’ll notice, as a bonus to myself, but I don’t want to spend it all in one place and come away with nothing.

I’ve decided that I am going to use some of that money to buy some new clothes. I need a new pair of work pants and a few new shirts, which I will definitely enjoy wearing. I don’t need to dress too nicely, but I like the thought of looking clean and professional. 30% of the windfall will go towards clothing.

I also am interested in building up my emergency fund a little more. I would be very happy to know that every month, my funds can go towards other goals than simply protecting myself in case of an emergency. So I will be sticking the remaining 70% there and should be fully funded by April.

By using some of my windfall for clothing, I will be congratulating myself on a job well done while not going overboard and spending it all. I think it’s important to spend money on things that make us happy, and this gives me the clothes I want now and will likely reduce future clothing expenses in the coming months because I will already have what I’ve been looking for.

By putting the other 70% of my bonus in emergency savings, I’ll be that much closer to my goal and when I look at my accounts on Mint, I’ll be pleasantly surprised to see that the money is making a difference in my life.

If you had $1,000, $5,000, or $10,000 deposited in your bank account today, what would you do with it?



  1. If I had that much money put into my bank account I’d go on a mad shopping spree! Or book a cruise to the Bahamas…

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