It’s December and for some that means a nice holiday bonus in their paycheck to help with gifts, parties, and everything else that costs money in our wonderfully consumeristic holiday season. So, I figured that we should join in on the festivities by recommending seven irresponsible ways you can spend your holiday bonus. A responsible version of this list will likely follow later today so those of your boring personal finance purists will have something to cheer about.
1. Take A Last Minute Vacation or Cruise
Last minute vacations, especially immediately preceding the hot holiday season, are generally very inexpensive and a great deal. I personally keep an eye out on sites like Travelzoo that list bargain last minute trips that usually rival any bargain you could possibly get any other time. My personal favorite is to go on a cruise where everything is taken care of from room to great food to entertainment and drop offs at wonderful destinations. Several years ago we took a last minute four day cruise on Carnival to the Western Carribean for easily less than $70 a day. With cruises, the general benchmark is that anything less than $100 a day per person is a great deal so $70 was pretty good.
2. Buy Yourself A New Television
It wouldn’t be the holidays if stores like Best Buy and Circuit City didn’t heavily discount their huge televisions in order to drum up some more business. Your next opportunity after this one will have to be right before the Super Bowl in a few months (not too long to wait). Why should you buy a television now? The technology is at a point where plasma televisions, once the technology of the elite videophine, was out of reach for regular people. Now, you can get a pretty large television for a great price. Larger LCDs are still a little pricier but if you can afford it they are great sets to get.
3. Buy Yourself A New Car
A nice holiday bonus means you are now able to put down more towards buying yourself a brand new ride. All those television commercials with huge red bows on cars can’t possibly be wrong right? Buying yourself a new car during this time isn’t such a bad idea because you’re up against the triumvirate of forces in the auto industry. First, it’s near the holidays so everyone is looking to push their inventory out the door. Second, you’re in the quarter in which next year’s models are sharing space with last year’s models, again they want to move inventory out the door. Third, your in the fourth and final quarter of the year, it’s now or never for many dealerships to make their numbers and end the year with a bang. If I were in the market for a car, I’d go in between December 26th and December 31st and cut myself a nice fat deal.
4. Visit That Nice Restaurant You’ve Been Meaning To Try
What’s nice about the holidays is that everyone is generally very friendly and very nice, so it’s a great time to check out that wonderful new restaurant you’ve been thinking about and perhaps hitting up some culture with a play, musical, or trip to the symphony. It’ll be fun coming in from the cold of the outdoors to a warm inviting restaurant. Pick a pricier restaurant, one that is normally out of reach, and really take it all in. Enjoy an appetizer or two, try a wild entree you normally wouldn’t try, and finish it off with a bottle of wine or two or three. Really make it an event that you will remember for months and it’ll be something worth more than the price of the meal.
5. See A Play, Musical, or Another Event of Culture
This is like Part 2 of Idea #4, a dinner out is nice but it’s even nicer when it’s a prelude to a trip to an event of culture. Now, if plays, musicals, operas, and things like that aren’t your bag, skip it and do something you really enjoy. The idea is to make it a night regardless of the cost and that could easily be a trip to the skating rink or movies instead.
6. Buy Mom or Dad A Really Nice Gift
Your parents probably put up with a lot as you were growing up, besides the usual changing of diapers and spitting up of food, so why not surprise them with a really nice gift this year? Perhaps send them on a last minute vacation or cruise like in Idea #1 or buy them a sweet new TV like in Idea #2. You have a job now, you should consider giving something really nice so they can feel good about raising such a sweet and thoughtful kid.
7. Do Something You’ve Always Wanted To Do
If not now, then when? Always wanted to visit somewhere? Always wanted to do something? Then do it. A bonus is a bonus, treat it like one instead of just another paycheck and splurge a little. Do something you’ve always wanted to do but felt irresponsible doing because you had to save for retirement or save for college or save for emergencies. It’s okay, you worked hard this year, rightfully earned that bonus – so enjoy it.