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Ten Best Ways To Blow Your Bonus

Expecting a $200,000 bonus? We suggest spending $70,000 of it on a 23-day world tour via private jet. If something closer to home is more your style, check out BMW’s 500 horsepower M6 convertible. It will set you back $104,000.

But you’d better act fast. If the kind of money being doled out this month and next is any indication, these and other big-ticket items won’t be around for long.

In New York City, for example, those in the financial sector received 2006 bonuses totaling $23.9 billion, up 17% over the year before, according to a report released last month by the New York State comptroller’s office.

In Pictures: Ten Bonus-Worthy Splurges But even if you didn’t make the record $53 million Goldman Sachs Chief Lloyd Blankfein copped, or the $46 million the second highest paid exec, Merrill Lynch's Stan O’Neal earned, there are plenty of ways to reward yourself for a job well done.

“The biggest thing I always hear is an apartment, or if they have one, upgrade and get a larger one or in a better neighborhood,” says Adam Goia, managing partner of Glocap Partners LLC., a hedge and alternative investment industry search firm of the items on many executive wish lists. “Another classic thing to spend a bonus on is a beachhouse, or a sports car if it’s a guy. You might buy a piece of jewelry for your wife or yourself new clothes.”

Pricey Properties It should come as no surprise that high-end homes top the lists of those looking to spend their bonuses. A wise real estate buy gets one not only a great space, but, in some parts of the country, an enviable return on investment as well.

“People want to be able to invest money in different ways,” says Jacky Teplitzky, an executive vice president at Prudential Douglas Elliman. “New York real estate has proven itself. If you put your money in real estate and you hold on to it for a minimum of five years, you are going to make money out of it.”

Second homes and pieds a terre are routinely snapped up by deep-pocketed executives each spring. In East Hampton, N.Y., a three-acre waterfront lot next door to Jerry Seinfeld is on the market for $29 million. And an 8,000-square-foot mansion in Bermuda, where property available to non-natives is a rarity, is on the market for $7.5 million.

Group Travel For those looking to shell out on luxury travel items, it’s gotten easier than ever this year, as Wall Street-watching industry professionals are gearing special packages and “experiences” toward the best-heeled consumers.

“After a year of record profits, Wall Street bonuses will continue to trend toward increased business for big luxury brands,” says Jennifer Oberstein, area director of public relations for The Ritz-Carlton Hotels of New York and Boston. “But the trends also tell us that people are looking beyond diamonds and sports cars--they want to share once-in-a-lifetime experiences with the most important people in their lives. When the news broke that our clients would be receiving record bonuses in 2006, we created an experiential package to share with his or her closest friends.”

The one-night deal includes accommodation at the Manhattan hotel’s Battery Park location--with Dom Perignon and strawberries in every room. Guests will enjoy a five-course dinner for 32, plus helicopter tours of New York City, a private fireworks display and round-trip limo transfer to and from the airport.

“After all,” says Oberstein, “What is $137,580 among friends?”

Exceptional Cars Luxury autos are also high on the list of bonus-worthy purchases. They were among the most popular purchases for people with big holiday bonuses, manufacturers say, making December a record-selling month for carmakers.

Two not to be missed: High-tech, beautiful and super-fast, BMW's luxurious M6 convertible uses a Formula 1-derived V-10 engine. With 500 horsepower, it offers stunning acceleration. The Porsche 911 Turbo coupe (base price: $122,900) has a refined, upscale interior and uses breakthrough engine technology to achieve a zero-to-60 time of 3.7 seconds.

Healthy Options After pushing yourself to earn that bonus, there's no better time to splurge on something for your overworked body.

Personal trainers and other health and fitness experts say clients are booking trips to wellness resorts such as Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Ariz., where they can take advantage of a customized, four-night Optimal Stress Management package, starting at $4,505.

Other indulgences include heli-skiing trips in untracked powder in places such as Jackson Hole and British Columbia, or buying the ultimate toy, like the Force Treadmill by Woodway, which trains athletes for speed and anaerobic endurance and starts at $9,450.

Golf lovers, on the other hand, may pour their money into time with sports psychologists, who can charge tens of thousands of dollars to help improve their swing.

"It's not about purchasing golf clubs anymore," says Don Saladino, co-owner of the New York golf gym Drive 495, about trends he's seeing. "At any level it comes down so much to psychology. What makes Tiger Woods so fantastic is that mentally every day he can do it over and over."

Wardrobe Essentials A big bonus also means you can start ticking items off of your style wishlist.

“People that get [a bonus] want to spend it on luxuries and extras in life” says Pam Danziger, founder of Unity Marketing, a marketing and consulting firm specializing in luxury consumer businesses. “But unlike in years past, people are being a little more cautious when it comes to spending on luxury items. They want to put money into something that will have some kind of return, like a watch which tends to hold its value a little more.”

The $24,800 Grand Lange 1 by A. Lange & Sohne certainly fits the bill. It seems more like a work of art then something that keeps you on schedule thanks to a hand-stitched crocodile strap and a manually wound caliber.

Another timeless accessory is an Hermes Kelly bag made of crocodile skin and named for Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco, on whom it was regularly photographed. Rather not go for animal skin? Hermes will custom make a bag in a different color, leather or size. This kind of luxury doesn’t come cheap: There is a waitlist, although Hermes would not disclose how long, for this $28,900 purse.



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