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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Pay This Bill- It Will Make You Rich!

Pay This Bill- And Get Rich! 

Your Most Important Bill
Your Most Important Bill!

Would you be surprised if I told you that by paying one of your bills you will become rich?  The strange thing is that most people are not paying their most important bill.

Let’s start by figuring out which bill could make you rich if you pay it.  Is it your mortgage?  Your electric bill?  Your grocery bill?  Your tax bill?  It’s none of these, and most people will not figure it out without some clues.  Part of the reason this most important bill doesn’t get paid is because people don’t even think about it.

You’ve probably heard the expression “pay yourself first”.  With this clue, do you know which bill is your most important bill to pay?

Image Credit:  Public Domain Image , Source: https://pixabay.com/en/letters-envelopes-letter-stack-post-286541/

What Does It Mean to Pay Yourself First?

You may have heard the common personal finance advice to “pay yourself first”, but what does that mean?  Paying yourself first means to take money for your savings or investment out of your paycheck first, and then pay other bills, such as the ones mentioned above.

Paying yourself first is not what most people do.  Most people spend their paycheck until it is gone and then hang on to make it to the next payday.  If you don’t pay yourself first, you will always be doing this!  The only way to break this cycle is to pay your most important bill first and save or invest money to build your wealth.

But What If There Is No Money Left After Expenses?

I think many people intend to save or invest any money that happens to be left at the end of the month, but there just never happens to be any left.  It is simply too easy to spend money if it is available.

People respond differently to bills than they do to goals.  If you give most people a bill, they manage to pay it somehow.  They understand that there are consequences for not paying a bill.  Not paying yourself first also has big consequences that grow as you pass your peak earning years and your income starts to decline.

 Even worse, the longer you wait to start paying yourself, the less time that your money will have to grow.

Think of the money you need to invest to build a retirement fund as a bill and pay that bill first.  If you run out of money, you’ll need to cut something else instead of being late to pay your most important bill!

How Much To Bill Yourself?

If you have a detailed budget, you may be able to analyze your expenses and determine a reasonable amount to save each month.  If you are like most people, you do not have a detailed budget.  In this case, start with a small amount of savings- such as $50 or $100- and take this out of your paycheck before spending on anything else.

Another way to approach deciding how much to pay yourself is to set an investment goal and work backwards to figure out how much you need to save each month.  Using an estimated average return on investment, you can try out different monthly contribution amounts to see how long it would take you to reach your goal using this investment goal calculator.

You may be surprised to see how much even a small regular contribution can grow over time!

How To Pay Yourself First

Pay your most important bill by putting your investment funds from each paycheck in a savings account or investments account away from your other money to help avoid spending it.  If you leave your investment funds in your checking account with your other funds, it is more likely you will spend it rather than investing it.

I automatically take my investment contribution out of each paycheck to fund my 401K retirement plan through my employer.  Contributing to a 401K plan has two major advantages:  1) you contribute funds on a pre-tax basis, and 2) many employers offer matching funds.  I get $1 of “free” money from my employer for every $2 that I contribute.  If your employer offers a 401K program, make sure you are not leaving free money on the table!

Even if you are already contributing to a 401K plan or do not have access to a 401K plan at work, you can benefit from other investment types.  I contribute to a Roth IRA every month using post-tax funds.  The advantage of a Roth IRA is that you will not need to pay taxes when you take money out of a Roth retirement account after it grows.

Regardless of how you invest the funds that you pay yourself, you need to have money available to invest.  Adjust your spending to make room for your new bill by cutting back on your least important spending- such as fast food or buying items you don’t really need.

If you think of the money you need to save or invest each month as a bill and pay it, your spending will naturally adjust just like it does when you take on any other new bill that you have to pay.

Most of your bills increase over time, and your most important bill should increase also over time as your income increases and you find ways to make more money and cut your expenses.  The point of paying yourself first is to treat the money you save and invest as your most important bill and pay that first.

If you are having trouble paying yourself, start by cutting your expenses so you can afford to pay your most important bill.  If you are looking for ideas to save money, check out Penny Pincher Journal to find more than 101 things you can do right now to save money...

Make It Happen!  Next Steps to Pay Yourself First

  • Decide how much to pay yourself every month or every payday
    • Use an Investment Calculator to help set your goals
    • Make sure you are getting the maximum company match 401K contribution
  • Adjust your spending to make room for your most important bill
  • Set up an automatic deposit into an investment account

Dr. Penny Pincher Bio:
Today’s post is by Dr. Penny Pincher at Penny Pincher Journal.  In 2013, Dr. Penny Pincher bought a puppy on impulse that changed his life.  He realized he would have to quickly find ways to spend less money to cover this unplanned expense that put a big dent in his budget.  He started searching for ways to spend less money and sharing penny pinching tips on his blog.  You might wonder if Dr. Penny Pincher is really a doctor... yes he is- with a Ph.D. in engineering.

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