Updated: November 25, 2023
I worked in the corporate world for five years. And in all those times, 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, I received 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 that 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.
The main reason for this result was that I rushed into it without careful consideration. In fact, I didn’t even like 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.”
At that time, I felt like I was on top of the world. I had a good-paying job and my career path looked bright. Foolishly, I also thought it was a blessing that credit card companies were giving me pre-approved cards.
The years when things changed
Christmas time came and my credit cards provided me with everything I wanted. Meanwhile, my money which includes 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.
It went to my emergency fund and to pay the rest of my debts.
Then, 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 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?