The average worker can expect about a 3 percent pay raise this year, according to a survey by Mercer. Getting a raise is only half the battle. Knowing what to do with it is the other half. Here are five moves to consider to make the most of your extra income:
There's nothing wrong with spending some of your raise. Aim for a 50-50 split: half goes toward discretionary spending, the other half goes toward reaching a long-term financial goal of reducing debt or bolstering retirement savings.
Aim higher if you can
If you don't want to use 50 percent of your pay raise to go wild, that's OK! If you can do more than a 50-50 split, the faster you can achieve those key objectives of paring debt, building a cushion and shoring up your retirement.
Pay off debt
Often people maintain a credit card balance that they can't quite pay off. It's a big drag on your finances. When you're looking to make progress in your financial life, the biggest impact can generally be found by paying off that high-interest debt.
Create emergency fund
If you don't carry credit card debt, or you've already paid it off, the next place to park your salary raise is in your emergency savings fund. Savers should strive to sock away between three and six months' worth of living expenses.
Pad your 401(k)
Once you've established your emergency fund, it's time to target retirement savings. If the option exists, take advantage of an employer-sponsored retirement account that offers a match.