My office distributes paychecks on the first and 15th of every month. Needless to say checking my bank account balance online around that time is as exciting as it gets. This Friday, though, I have reason to be extra excited. December 15th is not just any payday, it’s the payday when I will receive my annual bonus.
When I was hired at the firm in the summer of 2006, my recruiter informed me that the firm’s salaries are not top of the pay scale, but it tends to make up the difference come bonus time. Last year, I had only worked for the firm about six months when bonus day rolled around. I did not expect much. What I received was a little less than five grand (before taxes). Needless to say, I was floored. I have not heard anything about the firm being stingy this year, so I’m planning to receive a sizable chunk of change in about four days.
Money has concerned me for as long as I can remember. I moved to Chicago on a journalist’s salary and less than three months in found myself with mounting debt and a job that would never allow me to make ends meet. Last year, when I finally began making what I consider to be a livable wage, I vowed that I would not allow my influx of cash to be spent on venti lattes and bags of shoes. This is not to say I didn’t buy the occasional latte or pricy shoe, because I did. But I also did get very serious about getting my finances under control. I paid off my credit card, put a decent chunk of money in savings and started contributing 10 percent of my paycheck to a 401K. I am in better financial shape right now than I have ever been, and to me that’s worth more than all the venti lattes in Chicago.
As I said, I was surprised by first bonus. I could have justified splurging on a few needless, pricy items for myself since most of my bonus was money I had not banked on. Instead, I started my fiscal year right. Half of my bonus went to my credit card balance and the other half I used to open a high-interest savings account.
Since I have an idea of what I can expect to receive this year, I’m planning. And as a pat on the back to myself, I’m happy to say about half of my 2007 bonus will be spent on a spring trip to Morocco. A smaller portion will be used to pay off the few odds and ends on my credit card and an even smaller portion will be going toward my savings to round it up to nice even number. After Christmas presents and repairing my violin, I’m planning to still have a couple hundred extra for whatever. I already have a feeling a portion of that whatever is left (ok, most of it) may be spent on shoes… and at least one venti latte.