'Tis the season an employee's 13th month pay comes in. With that extra money, you can do a lot of things—buy Christmas presents, pay off debts, invest, or extend help to those in need.
There are many investment options out there where you can get financial returns such as the usual unit trust investment funds (UITFs), mutual funds, equity funds, and insurance. These investment options have varying rates of return depending on how much risk you can stomach, but most, if not all, beats the alternative of stowing your cash under your pillow or in a saving's bank, where inflation will inevitably eat up your money's purchasing power. Just be sure to gauge the vehicle that will suit your risk profile.
Be sure also to ask about the lock-up period as most of these products have a corresponding window where investors may be allowed to pull out their investment, outside of which a penalty may be imposed. If you already have an existing relationship with a bank through your savings account, it may be good to leverage on that goodwill to inquire about their investment products.
Then, there are more trendy and contemporary options like cryptocurrencies, Axie Infinity, and NFTs, but since they are relatively new, they tend to be volatile. Though there have been a number of anecdotal testimonials of people who have made reasonable returns from these new investment options, one should still take time to do one's own research, and you should never put in money that you can't afford to lose.
But investing doesn't always necessarily mean putting your money into getting gains. For instance, investing in yourself provides returns in different ways like improving your career prospects, building your confidence, and opening doors for new opportunities.
Here are a few smart ways to use your 13th month pay toward investing in yourself.
Upgrade your gadgets
Reliability should be your top priority when buying gadgets. You should always think about its lifespan and how long it can serve you. Who wants to shell out big money on something that's only usable for a year or two?
Laptops, smartphones, and cameras with good specs usually come with a higher price tag but for the most part, a lot of these pack future-proof features, which make them usable for the next five or more years, which may more than make up for your hefty initial investment.
Check your mental health
Aside from your physical health, your mental wellbeing should be a priority. One way to invest in your mental health is by seeking therapy. Despite the taboo and misconceptions around it, seeing a therapist isn't just for people in distress. Checking on your mental health should be just as normal as going to a dentist or a physician.
"The benefits of therapy extend far beyond periods of crisis," said Ryan Howes, Ph.D., a California-based psychologist. “Many people want more than to be ‘not depressed.’ They wonder what they can do to be the happiest, most productive, most loving version of themselves.”
Upgrade your wardrobe
Investing in quality clothes pays off over time. They can withstand wear and tear more than fast-fashion pieces thus lasting in your closet longer. Quality clothes are also more comfortable since these garments use more natural fibers like cotton, silk, and wool, unlike fast fashion's synthetic polyester, acrylic, and nylon fibers. Though most of us are still working from home, this doesn't mean that we should forego upgrading our clothes if only to make ourselves more comfortable and feel better, which actually also affects our day's outlook.
Enroll in certificate courses
You can never stop expanding your knowledge and expertise. There are plenty of courses—free and paid—that you can take up to hone your skills and advance your career. Online platforms like Coursera and Udemy offer courses on social media marketing, graphic design, data analytics, and more that you can go through at your own pace. We could use some of our free time to capitalize on these courses to expand our current skill set that could then make us more marketable, or just for self-edification.
Learn something new
Along with advancing your education, you can put your money into learning something new like a foreign language or develop life skills such as driving, cooking, or self-defense.
If you have plans to work or travel abroad, knowing a thing or two about the country's language can be helpful, and it can open doors to more job opportunities. TESDA, for instance, offers free courses on Nihongo, Mandarin, Arabic, and Spanish.
Donate to those in need
Another way to spend your Christmas bonus is by spreading the love to those in need. Super typhoon Odette has affected families and homes in Cebu, Bohol, Misamis Oriental, Southern Leyte, Negros occidental, Negros Oriental, Surigao del Sur, and more, leaving them with less this holiday season.
There are a number of channels where you can help out typhoon victims with cash donations, relief goods such as blankets, hygiene kits, bottled water, face masks, ready-to-eat food, and more.