According to CNN, 91% of businesses now have variable compensation programs — salaries coupled with bonuses or commissions.
Bonuses tend to come around the holidays, meaning many employees are in for a nice supplemental check soon.
While it can be tempting to splurge on a new iPhone or extravagant vacation, excessive spending may not be the most productive way to handle your bonus.
Before blowing your check on gifts, trips, or gadgets, consider directing it towards these 11 options:
1. Increase your 401(k) contribution.
You should already be contributing to your employer's 401(k) retirement account and be taking full advantage of any available company match program if one is available, but if you get a bonus, that's a great opportunity to increase that contribution.
The more you can set aside today, the better off you'll be in the long run, thanks to the power of compound interest.
7. Contribute to a dependent care flexible spending account (FSA).
If you have younger children, dependent care FSAs are worth considering. This account works very similarly to the healthcare FSA, in that you can contribute pre-tax money, but is specific to dependent care services, such as preschool, summer camp, daycare, or before and after school programs. Again, you must spend the money in your FSA by the end of the plan year.
'It is probably the single most underutilized benefit,' says Meyer. 'Employers offer it quite frequently, but people are not taking advantage of it.'
9. Consider investment platforms outside of retirement savings plans.
An end-of-year bonus is a good opportunity to start investing in low-cost index funds, which legendary investors Warren Buffett and Jack Bogle recommend, or to consider online investment platforms known as 'robo-advisers,' which manage your investments for you through unique algorithms.
You could also consider making a lump-sum investment with your bonus -- when you invest your money all at once, rather than over time -- explains Richard Graziadei, managing director of TIAA-CREF: 'Putting a bonus to work right away is a smart thing to do. Get it invested -- if you're going to invest it -- within a few weeks. Don't wait three, six, or 12 months.'
Of course, you'll want to make sure your general finances are in order before you invest -- but if you have a sound emergency fund, have prepared for future expenses, and are debt free, the quicker you put your money to work and jump start its growth, the better.
10. Invest in yourself.
Self-educate by enrolling in a course, attending a work related conference, or investing in books. The wealthiest, most successful people are constantly exercising their brains and looking for ways to continue learning long after college or any formal education is over.
On a similar note, invest in your health -- consider using your bonus for a gym membership, yoga classes, juicer, fitness magazine subscription, or anything else that will better your health and strengthen your mind.