Pay Yourself First

I once read in a business book that the main reason people aren’t able to save money is that they pay themselves last. By the time they pay their bills, their mortgage, put money into their vehicles and spend a little here or there on whatever else they spend money on, there’s nothing left to save.

On the other hand, the writer of the book said, if you put money into savings first, then you still figure out how to cover the payments you have to cover. It’s a matter of priority.

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The other day Maile was talking about how she had some good ideas for a writing project.

“But by the end of the day,” she said, “I’m so tired I just don’t have the energy to write.”

That old business concept came into my mind.

“You need to start paying yourself first,” I said. “Pick a time of day when you feel most productive, and instead of doing laundry or cleaning the kitchen, put everything to the side and write during that time. You will eventually get to all that other stuff.”

On Wednesday she gave it a try. She wrote in the afternoon, when she had the most energy. She even took my advice to write 1000 words.

It was the best writing she’d done in quite some time.

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Which part of you are you dedicating to the things you are passionate about? Are you always giving your passions the leftovers? How could you arrange your schedule so that things you love, the things you are uniquely created to do, are getting the best parts of you?

If you are a writer, when are you writing?

If you are an entrepreneur, when do you spend your time entrepreneur-ing?

If you are a musician, when do play?

Pay yourself first.

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Similar posts:
Living 1000 Words a Day
The Danger of New Beginnings
A Net for Catching Days

6 Replies to “Pay Yourself First”

    1. Yeah, I know, that’s kind of a problem.

      I made the switch to my current situation about 18 months ago, and I learned one thing about this – the majority of my daytime hours are not my most productive hours. They’re okay. Some are better than others. But my most productive fiction writing hours are actually late at night, or early in the morning. I used to give those times to sleep or television.

      I guess what I’m saying is, there are hours of everyone’s day over which they have little control. For most people it’s 8-5, or maybe certain times spent with family. So put those hours aside. What are your most productive hours outside of those non-negotiables? And what are you currently doing during those times?

      I always use Bryan Allain as an example. He works a long work week and commutes about 45 minutes. But he’s up every morning, early, and has created a time that has become his most-productive hours.

  1. Nice post Shawn. I always have to continually remember to pay myself first, not only financially, but also time wise by setting aside quality time for my passion. Although it amazes me though how much time I can find for myself, simply by turning off the TV or the computer for a few hours.

  2. At age 41 I finally found a job that is a vocation and a passion, so I get to do what I am passionate about for a job. What I find myself having to ‘pay first’ is downtime. I love being a 911 dispatcher and I am an EMT also, my work schedule allows for a fair bit of volunteering in that way, and when you get phone calls asking you to go on this or that interfacility transfer, its easy to spend up your free time completely. Of course, 24/7 of trauma, emergency, sickness, and occasionally, death does take its toll no matter how much you love throwing yourself into doing something important. When I catch myself feeling callous, or cynical, or emotionally spent; when ‘the wall’ we put up to be able to do our jobs in a clearheaded and effective way gets just a little too high, I have to turn off the pager and the phone and ‘hide’ for a bit and force myself to accept that its not something I should feel guilty about. (That is the hard part.)

  3. Even with a full time position there are ways to “pay yourself first”. I do small projects for my job that also help me advance both myself and my company. I wrote a few articles for my office on my own time over the past couple of years. I also did some organizational charts. By doing them at home with the little quiet space I had, I could think better and not interupt what I absolutely needed to do with time at the office. In the end, I was promoted and now do a lot more writing for our company for newsletters and our new blog.

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