Got Holiday Cash? Here’s What You Should Do With It

Believe it or not, we are now just one week away from Christmas — not to mention already several nights into Hanukkah. As a result you may have already started exchanging gifts with your friends, family, and co-workers as you prepare for the holidays. Furthermore you may have also received a holiday bonus from your employer and/or pocketed some cash as part of your gifts.

The great thing about getting cash as a gift is that there are millions of ways that money could be spent. But what is the smartest thing to do with it? Here are a few tips for making the most of your holiday money.

Pay down debt or add to your savings

If you have credit card debt or other financial obligations that are charging you interest, putting your gifted cash towards paying down what you owe is a great plan. Not only could this help you save some money but hopefully motivate you to keep working towards eradicating that debt altogether.  Meanwhile, for larger debts like student loans or mortgages, there may actually be more immediate uses for the money than making an extra payment, assuming you’re current on your account.

One of those more pressing needs could be having an emergency fund or a rainy day fund. These will help prevent you from going deeper into debt should an unforeseen financial issue arise. Of course, if you’re already satisfied with the size of your emergency fund and the like, another option is to make a contribution toward your retirement savings.

Invest in your career/future

Do you have big plans for 2018 and beyond? Sometimes a little extra pocket cash can go a long way toward assisting you in those goals. For example you might consider taking additional classes that can help further your career. Alternatively, if you’ve considered starting your own venture or freelancing, you might place the money into those initial costs. Granted, unless you have some very generous friends and loved ones, your holiday cash alone is unlikely to cover all of your needs. Still, you can think of these funds as a small seed that will hopefully help you grow something spectacular.

Shop smart

Often times, when someone gives you cash for Christmas or other holidays, they’re hoping you’ll spend it on something nice for yourself. However there are ways to fulfill that wish and still make wise financial choices. The trick is to just be thoughtful about what you end up spending the cash on and brainstorming ways your purchases can help you save money down the road.

What’s also great about this plan is that it doesn’t just work with cash but with gift cards as well. Some ideas for practical gifts you can give yourself include subscriptions to services like Netflix or Amazon Prime, warm/cool clothing (depending on your climate), tools for helping you complete a DIY home improvement project, exercise equipment that will help you stay healthy, and much more. In short, before you go on an aimless shopping spree, take the time to think about what you actually need and not just what you want.

Spend it on a vacation or experience

Finally, no matter how thrifty and hard-working you are, everyone needs a vacation. Therefore adding your holiday funds to your next trip budget can be a great move. Moreover the found money might just give you the chance to add a once-in-a-lifetime experience to your itinerary, perhaps even crossing off a “bucket list” item in the process. In that way, what may have seemed like a lazy gift to some could actually end up being one of the best presents ever.


As everyone knows, the holidays can be a stressful time — especially when it comes to finances. That’s why it’s always nice to end up with a little extra cash when all is said and done. Whether the result of a gift or perhaps a holiday bonus, there are plenty of ways to utilize this money and put it to good use, be it paying off debt, investing in your future, helping you save money overall, or giving you the experience of a lifetime. Happy holidays!

Author

Jonathan Dyer

I'm a small town guy living in Los Angeles looking to make solid financial decisions. I write for a number of finance websites, including HuffingtonPost and Business2Community. I founded DyerNews.com in 2015 to focus on personal finance and the emerging FinTech markets.

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