What Does “Pay Yourself First” Mean?

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Here’s the million dollar question, on the road to 1 Million, “How much are you saving each month? $1000, $500, $100 or Nothing?”

You ever get the feeling it seems like there’s more month than money? You may have made a plan and come up with a stunning budget in the past that no weapon formed against it will prosper, but here’s the reality. One month’s expenditures can be very different than another’s. Birthdays, holidays, last-minute things the kids need for school, a spontaneous events, and on and on and on. Although you may have accounts for each of those areas, some things you just can’t plan for. Saving a fixed amount each month may pose as a challenge. Some months you may actually be able to save something, and other months you can’t. So what’s there to do?

The Secret – “shhhhhhh”

The first “bill” you pay each month is to – yourself. Yes that’s right, yourself. Log into your online bank account, go to your bill payment list, and enter yourself as a bill; first name and last name. Now you may not be able to do this literally, but shifting your focus each month to a “pay yourself first” mentality is vital, and it can potentially be life changing. Let’s say for example you make $4,000 per month net, Uncle Sam always gets paid and truly lives by this philosophy. You would put aside $400 (10%) right away, leaving you $3,600 for the rest of your bills and living expenses. This strategy makes saving $400 per month a certainty. Wow!!!!! Now what?

If you don’t know how much you can save each month, then you don’t know how much you can save each year. If you don’t know how much you can save each year, then you definitely don’t know how much you’ll have put away 3, 5, 10, or 25 years from now. Will you have enough saved for retirement or other goals? With the above illustration of saving a fixed amount of $400 (10%), it provides some clarity and structure moving forward to attain your financial goals with a higher probability of achieving it because you’re paying yourself first.

More truth, the average Canadian could save over $300 per month and the average American over $500 per month! That’s wonderful, but how do you do that for you and your family if you’re not there yet? Here’s the how. Each time you get paid, set aside an amount just for you first. First means, before you pay your cellphone, mortgage, Netflix and your credit cards, you pay you first. You may be asking or saying to yourself, I don’t have 10% of my income to put aside based on my lifestyle needs. So maybe we then need to adjust our lifestyle. Start to go through your expenses and see what can be eliminated to reach the 10% mark. Another tip, start by saving 1% of your income this month. Month 2, find something else you can cut back on so you’re saving 2%. Work your way all the way up to 10%. Make is a fun game. You got this.

Vanessa SmithComment