From income-tax refunds to bonuses and sales commissions, there may be moments in our lives when we receive a one-time income boost. Unfortunately, many Americans make the mistake of assuming that extra earnings give them more reason to spend. But carefree spending can quickly translate into breaking our budgets, which leads to unnecessary debt and stress. Instead, use your new financial wriggle-room to your benefit!

Before you hop on a high-speed spending train, here is how you can make the most of your income and give yourself the financial reward you and your hard work deserve:

Plan and Track Spending: Use an app or organizational tool you feel comfortable with to monitor your spending and your account balances. Unfortunately, people assume that extra income means they can spend freely, but unchecked spending quickly adds up! Keep track of what you buy on a daily basis to avoid accidentally overspending and racking up debt. Debt grows with interest, which loses you even more money.

Plan for Reward Spending: You deserve to have fun, but you also deserve financial security! Keep splurge spending to a minimum. Instead, make room in your budget for a rewarding vacation, spa day, or other activity you enjoy. Studies show that people have an easier time relaxing when they also have financial peace of mind. Instead of new shoes or a nicer car, a savings cushion and emergency fund will go a long way to improve your stress levels in the long run.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others: Life is not about competition. We each ride our own train, which leaves the station at its own time, with its own schedule of stops and starts. Comparing your path and lifestyle to your neighbor will not give you answers about what is right for you and your plans for the future. Rather than compare, focus on where your train is going and fueling your own unique journey.

Spend More, Save More: While buying stuff and having new experiences feel good in the short term, disciplined saving will truly take you toward your long-term goals. Set up automatic transfers to your retirement and savings funds. If you would like to someday own a home, saving now will set you up for a lower mortgage and better interest rates.

If you are seeking to improve the way you use your money to your advantage, visit to learn more.

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