MANY consumers are looking forward to some respite from the tough financial environment with the promise of end-of-year bonuses. While it’s tempting to spend the cash on a holiday, or expensive gifts, you’ll be better off in the long run investing it or paying off debt.“Instead of blowing your bonus on large and expensive items, rather come up with a strategy that will see you saving, investing, or paying off debts,” said Susan Steward from Budget Insurance. “The small sacrifices you make, and the restraint you exercise, will set up well for 2019, and years to come,” she added.Spending your bonus smartly • Don’t spend your anticipated bonus or rack up credit-card debt before you’re paid the bonus. Keep in mind your bonus might be taxed, so don’t count on having every cent of your bonus to spend. • As soon as you get your bonus, move it from your current or cheque account to a different account so it’s out of sight and you’re not tempted to spend it all at once. • If you have any outstanding debt with high interest rates, such as credit cards and personal loans, pay them off. • You should ideally have an emergency fund of three to six month’s salary set aside for an emergency, or a job loss or illness. Use your bonus to set money aside or invest it in an easy-to-access fund that offers high interest. • Use your bonus on house improvement, thus increasing its value, and making for a more pleasant living setup. You can also save on payments in the long term by putting some of your bonus into your bond, which will reduce the interest on it. • If you are planning to purchase property in the near future, you could put your bonus in an interest-bearing account towards a deposit. Estate agents and sellers are more confident about an offer when the prospective buyer has a deposit. • Consider using your bonus towards paying school fees upfront for the following year. Some schools offer a discount for upfront payments, so there might be more of an incentive to get these payments out the way. • Treat yourself! If you’re financially healthy, buy yourself or your family something great. Remember that big gifts aren’t necessary, or even the best ones.“We’re not suggesting you don’t spend any of your hard-earned bonus on yourself and your family, but now’s a good opportunity to put yourself in a better financial position for 2019,” said Steward. — The Witness.