What to do first with your holiday bonus

It's bonus season.

According to a survey of 500 US businesses by recruiting agency Accounting Principles, about three-quarters of employers are spreading holiday cheer via check, gifting workers an average cash bonus of $1,081. That's up 25% from last year.

If you're expecting an end-of-year or holiday bonus, Katie Brewer, CFP and founder of financial planning firm Your Richest Life, suggests making a plan for the money before it appears in your account.

Generally, Brewer told Business Insider, you should commit 80% of your holiday bonus to "serious money," using it to pay off debts, increase savings, and top off retirement funds. The other 20% can be fun money, she says.

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It's easy to think of a dozen uses for your "fun money." But what about that 80% you're dedicating to building wealth? Where should you start?

Below, we've put together a flow chart to help you figure out where your serious money can make the most impact. The chart assumes that you're making regular payments toward any debt and are without extenuating circumstances, like an expected end-of-year medical bill or other urgent charge to which you've already committed your bonus.

BI Graphics_Holiday Bonus Flowchart
BI Graphics_Holiday Bonus Flowchart

Skye Gould/Business Insider

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