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What would you do with your Christmas bonus – if you get one?

According to a BMO study, one-quarter of workers expect to get a year-end bonus.

Feng Yu/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Half of working Canadians eligible to receive a year-end bonus in 2012 say they would use the money to pay down debt or for saving and investing, while the rest would blow it on the holidays, shopping or a vacation.

The Bank of Montreal online poll of 1,000 adults, conducted last week and released Monday, found that despite what they called a "challenging economic environment," 26 per cent of working Canadians expect to find a bonus in their workplace stocking this year. Thirty-three per cent said it was unlikely they would get one.

Among those who believe they are likely to get a some year-end cash from their employer, 60 per cent said it will be the same as last year, 26 per cent believe it will be bigger and 14 per cent think it will be smaller.

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When asked what they would do with a holiday bonus, 26 per cent of Canadians eligible for one said they would save or invest the money, while 25 per cent said they would pay down household debt, such as a mortgage, credit cards, auto loans or their personal line of credit.

On the more naughty side, 20 per cent said they would use it to pay for holiday spending, 9 per cent said they would "reward themselves" with a holiday purchase and 9 per cent would use it to take a vacation.

BMO release offered these tips for Canadians looking to pay down debt as we head towards 2013:

1) Don't overspend.

Develop a budget that establishes how household expenses will be paid and how spending will be managed.

2) Curb credit card debt.

Pay down credit cards – beginning with those that carry the highest rate – and consider using a low rate card for purchases.

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3.) Invest to save.

Set up a Tax Free Savings Account or high interest savings account to set aside extra cash in case of an emergency.

4.) Become mortgage free faster.

Choosing a lower amortization and increasing monthly payments on mortgages can help you pay off your mortgage faster while saving you thousands of dollars in interest costs.

5.) Have a back-up plan.

Develop a fall-back plan in case you are unable to meet your financial obligations as a result of unexpected circumstances, such as losing your job. The general rule of thumb is to have an emergency fund set aside that is equal to three to six months of your income.

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