don't stiff yourself

6 – Be First In Line

How often are you first in line when you’re doling out your paycheck? Any answer other than “every time” should be unacceptable.

Stop deciding how much you can save each paycheck only after everyone else gets paid. Pay yourself first! It’s a great habit that will reap huge benefits for you.

Take Action:

  • Figure out where you regularly spend money
  • Create a budget that:
      Pays off credit card and installment debt
      Builds an emergency fund
      Allows you to prioritize saving regularly to achieve your financial goals
      d. Distinguishes between “essential” versus “discretionary” spending
  • Stick with the budget

Commentary:

For some of us, getting off the couch (Thing #2 to do on your journey to financial success) is the hardest. Other people (mostly thin people) say living on a budget is tougher! Regardless, each activity will reap huge benefits.

Review credit card and bank statements for the past year. This is the only way for you to figure out how you are spending your money each month.

Don’t be surprised that you won’t be able to account for where all your money goes! (Curse those ATMs and debit cards!) The first goal of a good budget is not to have expenditures unaccounted for.

Pay yourself first. The highest priority of a household budget is to save money for both short-and long-term goals:

  • Build an emergency fund
  • Save for near-term expenditures so that you can make them without taking on future debt
  • Defer into your 401(k) at least the minimum amount that gets you the maximum Employer match (not only are these matching dollars are part of your compensation, retirement plan contributions can save you money on taxes!)
  • Contribute to an IRA if you don’t have a 401(k)

Essential expenditures are housing costs, transportation, food, insurance, etc. Discretionary expenditures are entertainment, travel, consumer goods, etc. Save first. Pay for Essentials. Remaining funds go for the Discretionary.