Five Things I Did With My Christmas Bonus and 13th Month Pay

Posted by Fitz Villafuerte under Life Lessons, Personal Finance on November 24, 2009

I worked in the corporate world for around five years.

And in all those time, the arrival of the annual Christmas bonus and 13th month pay was something I looked forward to. Well, who doesn’t?

A few days ago, as I receive text messages from friends who had already received their holiday bonuses, I can’t help but remember those years when I too, would be as frantic and happy as they are now around this time of the year.

I started to reminisce – those five exact years of being an employee and where or how I spent those extra cash.


Fresh out of college and working in my first job – my very first Christmas bonus and 13th month went to two places. First, a dinner treat for my family and second, a brand new cellphone.

It was out with the hand-me-down monochromatic Nokia and in with the sleek Sony Ericsson Cybershot phone. I could still feel the rush when I went to Greenhills to buy the very first gadget I could truly say I own.

Second year. I just transferred to a new company a few months back and I was eager to show my officemates that I was a team player. Maybe that’s why I didn’t have second thoughts of using my holiday bonus to join a multi-level marketing company where most of them were already members.

However, to make the long story short, my MLM venture was not an astounding success. I did earn money but only enough to recuperate the joining fee. And the main reason for this result was because I rushed into it without careful consideration. In fact, I didn’t even liked the product we’re selling. And so I quit – both the MLM company and my job.

Third year, third job. I was actually enjoying my “job-hopping”. I said to myself, “As long as the new work gives a higher salary than the previous one, I’m okay with jumping ship.”

That time, I felt like I was on top of the world. I had a good paying job, my career path looked bright and credit card companies were all giving me pre-approved credit cards, which at that time – I foolishly thought was a blessing.


Christmas time came and my credit cards provided me with everything I wanted while my money, including my bonuses, quietly slept in the bank. That was until January and February came and my “savings” were not enough to actually save me.

Life became financially hard. I was deep in credit card debt and had no savings. I felt trapped at work and I was no longer on top of the world.

And that’s when I changed.

I started to read books and did my best to increase my financial literacy. Slowly, I felt renewed and even months before my fourth Christmas bonus and 13th month pay came, I already knew where it should go – to my emergency fund and to pay the rest of my debts.

Alas, my last year in the corporate world came. After careful planning and much thought, I decided I’d quit my job, but only after the holidays – I needed every centavo I can get to help me as I quit the rat race.

Honestly, I didn’t really expect to stay afloat without a job for so long. At the back of my mind, a voice told me that I would need to apply for work sooner or later.

But I managed to endure the pressures of being self-employed, a freelancer.

And a few months before the next Yuletide season came, I courageously withdrew my last Christmas bonus and 13th month pay that has been sitting there for almost a year and used it to start a business.

How about you? What are you planning to do with your holiday bonuses this year?

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12 Responses to “Five Things I Did With My Christmas Bonus and 13th Month Pay”

  1. Angel Cuala says:

    Unfortunately, I don’t remember me working in a company giving a Christmas bonus so I only get the 13th month pay.

    Anyway, I have worked for more than 16 years but never did I saved my 13th month pay. In fact, it already has gone even before I got it and you know what I mean.

    Now, it’s my second year of not being employed and I miss that 13th month pay. However, I know I did the right thing and I am doing all my best to get more than I am getting when I was still employed.

    It’s only a matter of discovering what is for me.


  2. cris says:

    We got 13th month around October pa, quite early for some.
    I tucked it in mutual funds.

    Our company also had a one-time, interest free salary loan, payable for one year. I also took advantage of that and invested it.

  3. Hey Fitz! I LOVE this post!! I love the personal aspect and the way you provide progression in your Christmas spending progression.

    Your final Christmas bonus spend was truly you’re greatest. It’s fascinating to understand this business to me.

    Great line:

    β€œsavings” were not enough to actually save me.

    I’m going to include this post in my weekly Katana round up.



  4. Rich Money Habits says:

    I can’t remember where I spent my 13th and 14th month bonuses. I think I just spent it on eating out, rent and yes, paying for my credit card debt! πŸ™‚

  5. As for me, I always save my Christmas Bonus. When I worked in an investment bank before, we very large bonuses. I remembered I invested it in BOND Fund of UITF and then later on transferred to Balanced Fund and finally settled with the riskiest of all, equity funds.

  6. Fitz says:

    @Sir Angel
    And it’s also only a matter when you won’t miss getting that 13th month pay. πŸ˜€ I wish you all the best in your endeavors. God bless!

    Good for you to invest those extra cash. Smart decision.

    Thank you. It’ll be an honor to be included in your Katana round up. πŸ˜€

    I asked my friends too and they can’t seem to remember also. I guess it’s just normal to be “too happy” with the extra money and forget where it all went afterwards. πŸ™‚

    So are you still invested in those instruments until now? How’s the performance been?

  7. Fitz – Included this post in my Katana, which is out! Cheers, FS(Sam)

  8. Fitz!
    For some people this business buzz word is not really a buzz word but oxygen to them. For others their wheels take a long time to turn and others do not have the cogntive capacity for this….. (excuse my words). However, passion is what matters and most of us are locked in a job they hate because it is not their passion.
    I am on the journey to discover my passions and am having a blast doing it!

  9. ceblogger says:

    just like you, i spent my first 13 month pay on a dinner treat with family. the bonus was spent on new clothes (corporate attire). ah that was 14 christmases ago!

    now, the 2nd half of the 13th month pay that i’ll get tomorrow will be spent for my more than two dozen godchildren, niece and nephews, and for my plane fare to cebu and back here in manila. wifey will also get a chunk of it to start a new business.

  10. Fitz says:

    Thanks for the feature. πŸ˜€

    Yes, doing what you have passion for is very important.

    Wow more than two dozen kids to give gifts to! You’re a Santa Claus! πŸ˜€ Anyway, all the best to you and your wife on that new business.

  11. […] you may be lucky to have cash bonuses from work to support the additional expenses, it’s still important to take control of your finances and […]

  12. Rose says:

    Hi, Fitz. Just want to share my story. Not to brag or what but when I received my first 13th month pay and bonus from my first job (until this time), I started investing it to a mutual fund account. I was just 22 years old back then and this is what I’ve been teaching to my close friends now. Thank you for this informative post, by the way.

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