Pay Yourself First

February 17, 2009

If you’re like most people, you pay your bills every month and if there’s anything left over, you put it into savings. The problem with paying yourself last is that there’s usually not a lot left over. So try this instead: Commit to saving a certain amount each month, and make that the first check you write. Better yet, arrange to have an amount automatically transferred from your checking account to a mutual fund each month. If you have a dire emergency you can always take the money out of the mutual fund. But if you make saving really easy and spending somewhat difficult, you’ll be more likely to stick to your savings plan every month.

Then, when the money starts building up, you’ll be so proud of your nest egg that you’ll actually prefer saving to spending. You’ll get more pleasure out of seeing your savings balance grow than you would from having the latest gadget that does little more than separate you from your money. Eventually, you’ll turn the corner from being a spender to a saver—no easy feat in our consumer-oriented culture.

Start by estimating how much you can reasonably save each month. Even if it’s only $25 or $50, you’ll be making progress. The whole idea is to start the transition from a spending mentality to a saving mentality.

Although we are experiencing some very volatile investing times, you will be making investments at a lower cost than a year ago, and will hopefully have some good gains as the market returns.

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