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By Thea Theresa English

Do meaningful things with your surplus cash

Do you have extra cash from a bonus, inheritance or a pay raise this year? If so, you are wondering what you can do with this cash. Sure you can get a new car or go on a vacation but why not use this cash to invest in something that will pay off long term? If you are expecting a baby, use the extra cash to get started with her college fund. Another idea is to contribute to your emergency savings.

Pay down debts

By using the extra cash you have to pay down debts, you use less of your own income towards that debt and this enables you to save more money for the future. Be sure to review your credit reports and write dispute letters to the credit bureaus if you see debts on the reports that you do not owe or have paid already. Minimize your debt load by paying more than the minimum balance.

Boost your retirement savings

You might only be in your 30s but it is never too late to increase your retirement savings if you have a retirement account. You are using your extra cash as an investment by doing this and you speed up the amount you will have in funds when you are ready to retire. Set a rule for yourself where every time you come across extra cash, it will go towards retirement.

Help loved ones in need

You don't want to think only about yourself when you get extra cash. Help loved ones get back on their feet with the cash. For example, if you received a substantial amount of cash from a lawsuit, you can help a single mother in your family with the cost of a new car or daycare expenses.

Build a two-month food supply

To keep yourself from running very low on food, use the extra cash to build a two-month supply of pantry items. The best way to do this is to purchase the foods you cook with the most on sale and in bulk so that you will have enough on hand. You can also freeze meats you buy in bulk.

Buy college textbooks

Sometimes your grants and loans do not cover the entire overall cost of textbooks and other supplies so if you are a student who earned extra cash, you can use it to buy textbooks. You don't always have to purchase them from the campus bookstore. There are cheaper priced books online, at garage sales and independent bookstores.

Get a professional wardrobe

For those starting new jobs soon, it would be a good investment of your extra cash to buy professional clothing. Some good items to buy include a few pairs of solid-colored dress pants, two to three pairs of pumps, a few button down wrinkle-free shirts, some medium length skirts, belts and one or two nice purses.

These suggestions are practical and long term ways to use the extra cash you have. Always be cautious when making certain investments because some – inevitably – are scams.

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