My boss pulled me into her office early this week and hinted that I was getting a bonus without officially telling me. She asked about some of my accomplishments as she was writing up a justification for my bonus. This always makes me feel a bit awkward. Maybe it’s because I don’t like drawing up a lot of attention on myself and receiving praise always makes me bashful. Nevertheless, I am incredibly thankful that my boss thinks enough of my work to give me a bonus.
I know I’m not the only one that will be getting a bonus this year. It appears that bonuses are replacing pay raises. We have all read about flat wages and how companies are trying to keep payrolls down.
“Base salary increases are flat. We don’t see the prospect of that changing much at all in the next several years,” said Ken Abosch, who studies compensation issues for Aon Hewitt.
According to an article from the Washington Post written last year:
The decline of the raise could help explain one of the most frustrating puzzles of the America’s lumbering economic recovery: stagnant wages. Growth in workers’ average hourly earnings has been stuck at roughly 2 percent for the past five years — even after the rapid drop in unemployment and surge in hiring over the past 18 months.
According to a NY Times article written in 1987:
Cash bonus payments for blue- and white-collar workers were so spotty until 1983 that the bureau (of Labor Statistics) did not bother to gather statistics. Today, however, 40 percent of all workers covered by major union agreements have bonus provisions in their contracts, according to the bureau. Many are in the form of one-time lump-sum payments that take the place of raises.
As you can see, bonuses before 1983 were not widely reported. But, clearly over the last 30 years, bonuses have replaced increased wages.
I am fortunate to also anticipate a raise at the end of this year. Looking at the work budget, a raise is very probable. Unfortunately, the raise probably won’t be huge, but hopefully it will be big enough to rise above the level of inflation. So, with that said, I don’t have to depend on the bonus to cover what would have been a raise for next year.
Now, let me caveat that the bonus that I anticipate receiving is not Wall Street-type bonus money. If I were to guess, it’d be closer to half a paycheck-type money. So not life-changing, but definitely a nice little extra chunk of change. It got me thinking though: what should I do with the bonus money when it arrives?
In the past, I would use my bonus to pay off debt or apply it to my mortgage. But, now that I am debt-free and saving over 70% of my take-home pay, I thought maybe I should let loose and spend a little.
I am a pretty simple guy and have everything that I need in life. On top of that, I don’t really need more stuff. Aside from material things, I am more interested in experiences and making memories these days.
Ways To Spend My Bonus
With that said, here are a few ways that I have thought about spending the money, if I don’t invest it. The first two ways are actually material things, but trust me, I have good reasons to include them in the options.
My wife doesn’t spend nearly enough money on herself. She loves her Macbook, but it’s close to seven years old and definitely has endured a lot of wear and tear over the years. When she isn’t using it, her special needs sister is. I have replaced the battery multiple times since it won’t hold a charge. The trackpad has been cleaned multiple times but still has trouble. Overall it’s been a great laptop, but ideally, I liked to upgrade her.
I was looking at the new Macbook for her, and from everything that I have read, it appears to be a great laptop. So for those Apple fanboys and girls out there, if you have any recommendations, feel free to share in the comments section.
Of course, since my wife edits the blog, I’m sure she’ll instantly nix this idea immediately since she’s attached to her slowly dying one.
New Cell Phone
In addition, she has an iPhone 4 (not even the 4s… just the 4), which is on its last leg. It moves pretty slowly and since she can’t update the operating system, most of the apps freeze or simply don’t function. She finally deleted her Snapchat app because it consistently froze the screen and caused her phone to malfunction. First world problems, right? But really, she doesn’t complain about her phone. It probably frustrates me more than it does her.
While I would love to upgrade her to the newest iPhone, I can already tell you she is going to nix the idea. BUT, if I was to upgrade myself, she would be more inclined to take my gently-used iPhone 5. It still works great, and if the only way that I can upgrade my wife’s phone is buy giving her my hand-me-down, I might just do it.
**Update: My wife just had a birthday and received an iPhone7 from her family. They got her Rose Gold so that she couldn’t regift it off to me. Happy birthday, honey! 🙂
If we decide against the aforementioned Apple products, I know I can convince my wife to go on a trip. At the top of my list is Iceland. In previous posts, I have expounded upon my obsession with Iceland. Plus, direct flights through Wow Air are super cheap from here in the DC area.
Another place I would love to visit is the Galapagos Islands. The raw beauty of the untouched wildlife and exotic animals sounds breathtaking. On top of that, it should be warm, and I wouldn’t mind avoiding some of DC’s cold winter.
So, I’ve shared a few different ways to spend the bonus money. What are your thoughts? Would you spend the money on any of these items? Save it for a rainy day? Or would you spend it on something else? Share your thoughts below.