Pay Yourself First – And Other Smart Money Strategies

There are as many ways to budget and save as there are personalities. You may be a type-A, strict, and regimented sort of person or you may be a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type. There is a budget plan for each and every type. The key is finding a style that fits with your natural tendencies.

Pay Yourself First

One style of budgeting is the pay yourself method.

The pay yourself first method calculates the financial commitments that are important to you and your family, sets that money aside, and uses the remainder income for the day-to-day budget.

This is the opposite of traditional budgets that consider bill paying and fixed expenses the priority and setting aside savings for important, but not essential monthly items, an afterthought – if there is money left over.

The thing is… there usually isn’t…so you never pay yourself first. This is what happened to me for many years. Because I solely focused on paying day-to-day expenses, I didn’t save enough for retirement or emergencies.

It took some time, but I was able to shift the focus on paying myself first, or perhaps I should say my future self. Now, when it’s payday, I first transfer money to both my retirement and savings account, before paying anything else.

Paying yourself first can help you be honest about what matters to you – like saving for retirement or paying cash for your next car without feeling selfish or taking away from other expenses of your budget.

The Envelope Method

Another great trick for saving money is the envelope method. Imagine you want or need an item. Like a new pair of shoes. If you have time to wait, you can use the envelope method to easily save and pay for this item fast.

The envelope method is simple. Grab an envelope and stash some cash in there. Each time you have some change or cash left over from a transaction, slip it into the envelope. Get a rebate check or unexpected small refund – slip that into the envelope.

By putting small bits of cash intentionally into the envelope, you guard against spending extra cash that could easily add up for your purchase. Before you know it, you have the sum you need for the item you want most.

The envelope system can be great for Christmas gifts for example. Putting $10.00 a week into an envelope will render $520.00 after one year. You can buy a few gifts with this.

Cash-only Budget

Using actual cash to pay for expenses can help you better control your spending. Studies have demonstrated over and over again that we’re more mindful of our spending when we’re parting with cash. 

Cash is tangible; a credit card charge, not so much.

Granted, it may be difficult to pay cash for your rent or mortgage. But you can totally do so with groceries and gas for example.

Final Word

Whether it’s paying yourself first or using a clever tool like the envelope method, there are as many ways to save and create wealth as there are ways to spend it. Research or create a method that works for you and your family.

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