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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas is just around the corner. Holiday sales are everywhere. People are planning office parties left and right. But best of all, Christmas bonuses and 13th-month pay are being rolled out. YASSS!!!

You’ll definitely feel like a “one-day millionaire” when the extra dough clears on your account. More so, when you’re in holiday mode (read: generous-to-the-bone mode), your 13th-month pay can disappear just as easily as it came. For many people, the 13th-month pay wouldn’t even get past the Noche Buena.

Think about it. You’ve waited all year for the extra cash, so you might as well put it to good use. Better yet, go milk it for all its worth so that extra cash won’t end up as debt comes the New Year.

Here are some ways on how not to waste your 13-month pay.

Plan, Plot, Allocate

Some would argue that it is unwise to spend money before you actually have it. In the case of expected cash, it’s advisable to plan and “spend” it all in your head already. This way, you won’t black out and wake up with your 13th-month pay gone and have 10 new pairs of shoes in your closet.

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Break It into Parts

You already have an idea how much you’ll get, so better plan for it. If you have existing loans from family and friends, or a worsening credit score, it is wisest to pay off old debt first.

Break down the expected figure into fractions where one part goes to savings, while the other into paying off loans. Some can go on your holiday shopping spree and the rest can be turned into savings or investments.

Avoid Holiday Sales

Here’s the thing, there are pre-holiday, holiday, and post-holiday sales. In the Philippines, even a 3-day sunny forecast can be good enough reason for malls to stage sale events.

The reality is that sale events are everywhere. You miss one and three more will pop up. It’s like Hercules slaying Hydra’s heads—it never stops.

As tempting as holiday prices go, don’t swipe and weep or throw your full 13th-month pay into the fire. Treat yourself, but don’t go overboard.

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Start an Emergency Fund

If you don’t have one yet, you’d better start now. As the name suggests, it’s the money you keep for emergencies such as health concerns, financial problems, and even unemployment.

Saving at least 25 percent of your 13th-month pay is a good starting point. Then, a mere Php500 saving every payday can grow into a substantial amount at the end of the year.

Make a Holiday Christmas List

When you’re in shopping mode, it’s easy to get carried away. Before December even starts, you need to sit down and create your own Santa’s list. This will help you allot the amount you plan to spend for each person.

While part of your 13th-month pay can easily disappear into shopping, you don’t need to wait for it to start building your holiday fund. There are many ways to earn extra cash for the holidays such as answering online surveys, writing reviews, and even pawning your pre-loved items on online pawnshops.

Don’t wait until the last minute. Start as early as you can. After all, Christmas in the Philippines starts in September.

Make It Count

Many Filipinos make the mistake of blowing off their extra cash in one go, especially on things that don’t really matter. It’s sad that you’ve waited for your 13th-month pay for a whole year, and you spent it all in 6 hours or less. With these tips, we hope you can extend the life of your extra dough and really put it to good use.

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Gem Muzones

Gem is a contributing writer for PawnHero. She was a news writer who walked alongside protesters in the streets of Manila and a magazine editor who got free passes to product launches and the hippest events. She's a big Game of Thrones fangirl, 1/2 of a budget travel blogging duo for Travels with a Hobo, and suffers from chronic hair dissatisfaction (she changes her hair color every month).