From The Straits Times    |

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At this time of year, you’ve either just received your annual bonus and increment, or you’re waiting for it to be announced.

Whether you’re weeping tears of joy and swearing eternal allegiance to your boss or angrily sending your CV to recruiters, here are three things you should be doing to improve your career and finances in the coming year.


1. Save and invest your bonus

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So, you’re lucky enough to have received a decent bonus this year. Whether this is a one-off or you’re used to receiving big, fat bonuses, you should be aiming to save and invest a significant amount, if not all, of your bonus.

A bonus is never guaranteed. When you are budgeting, you should not be counting on your bonus to support your spending. Even the 13th month bonus is not compulsory and might not be paid if you performed poorly or if the company did badly.

No matter how tempted you are to blow your bonus on a bag/watch/holiday, make sure you immediately set aside a portion to save and invest. Your year-end bonus offers you the perfect chance to give yourself a leg-up in achieving your financial goals, and also to make amends if you’ve overspent during year.

If you haven’t been able to build up an emergency fund yet, you can now channel some of your bonus into one. If you have anything left over, invest it.


2. Make an appointment with your boss to discuss your performance

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Not all companies have an appraisal system, and even those that do often do not provide much constructive criticism.

So at the start of each year, take the initiative to schedule a short meeting with your boss to discuss your performance the previous year, and how you can improve in the coming one.

Even if you think you performed satisfactorily last year, direct feedback from your boss can help you identify things you could be doing even better.

If you never ask for feedback from your boss, you could end up making the same mistakes over and over again without realising it. Your boss’s feedback should guide you in doing your job even better in the coming year.


3. Make a roadmap for what you want to learn in the year ahead

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There is no point in showing up for work every day, doing the same tasks over and over again, with no clear idea of where you want this work to take you.

The beginning of a new year is a perfect time to sit back, assess your career and ask yourself what you want to learn and how you want to progress in the year ahead.

You should definitely be thinking about what new skills you want to pick up in the new year, and how you are going do so.

You might have to ask to be sent on skills upgrading courses by your employer.

If you find that you’ve been doing the same thing at work for quite some time and your skills are starting to stagnate, it might also be time to ask for some new responsibilities or to be asked to be placed on more challenging projects.


This article was first published on Moneysmart.