Most people think about getting fiscally fit when they’re having trouble making ends meet. It’s natural – you’re most likely to feel the need to get better at something when what you’re doing isn’t working.
It occurs to us, though, that coming into a bit of extra money presents an ideal opportunity to get focused on developing wise money habits. In fact, getting extra money and not handling it carefully can end up leading to some serious regret. (We won’t bore you with stories of extravagant vacations after an employer discovers an accounting error, but we do have some personal experience here.)
So, whether Aunt Mary sent you 20 years’ worth of birthday checks all at once, a big deposit from the government showed up in your account, you got your first annual bonus in 10 years, or you just haven’t been spending as much lately (can you say “lockdown?”), here are some “Things to do when you have extra cash.”
Thing #1: Fine tune your budget
It may just be time to take a good look in the budget mirror and dissect your spending habits. It can be an eye opener to see just how much you’ve spent on one-click shopping or dining out. Viewing your spending habits may help you rework future spending and make more room for Things 2 through 6 below.
BancFirst’s Money Management tool lets you set, visualize and interact with budgets you’ve set. You’ll get great insights on where, when, and how you spend.
Thing #2: Start a savings account
We’re sure you’re shocked to read this, but yes, we think one of the best things to do with unexpected funds is to put them in an interest-bearing account. No, it’s not glamorous, but if you’re like most Oklahomans, you could be just a missed paycheck or two away from not being able to pay your bills. Rather than doing something impulsive (though fun) with your bonanza, consider putting it away. Because yes, that rainy day is almost sure to come, and you don’t want to get wet.
Thing #3: Trim your debt
Do you have credit card balances, personal loans, auto loans, student loans, or even old medical bills that you’re still paying on (or aren’t but should be)? Even if your windfall isn’t enough to pay anything off, it’s still the best course of action (assuming you already have the afore-mentioned rainy day fund). Whether you start with your highest balance, highest payment, or highest interest rate, just start! In addition to getting that debt monkey off your back, you’ll be helping your credit score. Win-win!
Thing #4: Bulk up your retirement savings
If you have your short-term priorities covered, there’s no better place for that extra cash than in your retirement plan, working hard to secure a brighter future for you. If your employer’s plan doesn’t allow random contributions, check into an IRA or other option.
Thing #5: Buy a house
Assuming you don’t already have one, making a down payment on a home might be a smart place to put that extra money. There are many advantages to owning versus renting, especially if you can get a good interest rate. You might actually reduce your monthly housing expense, turning your one-time benefit into an ongoing advantage!
A BancFirst mortgage officer could help you decide if homeownership is right for you!
Thing #6: Splurge (a little)
We know this doesn’t seem to go with the rest of our ideas, but we also know that sometimes it just feels good to give yourself a little treat – and that’s OK. Set aside some of your extra money for a nice dinner, a little pampering, or anything else that makes you happy. We want you to be responsible, but that doesn’t mean be boring. Live a little now, but even more later!