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Ask DSM Readers: Do You Pay Yourself First?

by Tara Kuczykowski on November 18, 2010 · 11 comments

Ask DSM Readers: Do You Pay Yourself First?Photo by bigburpsx3

Every week I'll pose a question for you to share your experiences and tips. If you have a question that you'd like me to post, I'd love to hear from you!

Ask any financial guru, and they'll tell you that an important part of taking control of your finances is to pay yourself first. Of course, they don't mean that you should pay yourself to get a latte instead of your bills! But it's easy to waste money if it's in your account, and setting up automatic transfers to your savings account is a good way to prevent that from happening. I mentioned before that we were able to save for a vacation simply through these automatic transfers, and you really don't miss the money when you just take it out of your account before you ever see it!

Do you pay yourself first? Do you have "sinking funds" to save for the holidays, vacations, clothing or other seasonal expenses? Do you have automatic transfers set up, or do you transfer the money manually? How did you decide how much to pay yourself?

Join the discussion -- add your two cents to previous Ask DSM Readers questions too!

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Damsel November 18, 2010 at 11:26 am

We are terrible about this. I really need to set up automatic transfers!

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2 Dizzy Mommy November 18, 2010 at 12:53 pm

My rebate checks go straight into savings, then I transfer $225 into another account for our mortgage, and $25-100 depending on the time of year for emergencies. I also always take $500 of our tax refund right off the bat, go to the bank and buy $1000 in savings bonds, last year I turned in the first $500 at full maturity, and then with my $1000, I bought $2000 in savings bonds once those mature I will flip it again and again. Its for major emergencies (and maybe someday retirement). We have long had problems with my husbands ex and identity theft, including her draining savings accounts for our kids so I had to figure something else out.

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3 jennifer November 18, 2010 at 3:17 pm

how does that work. I looked on my bank and could not find it.

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4 (different) Jennifer :) November 19, 2010 at 9:23 am

I want to try that too... that's a great idea! I'm going to look into that!!!

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5 casey4383 November 18, 2010 at 1:33 pm

This is the only way we can save. When my husband gets paid we start by paying all of our bills. Then I trasfer everything but exactly what we will need over the next two weeks for gas, groceries and other small things. If it is in the account it is so easy to spend it!

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6 Vanessa November 18, 2010 at 1:37 pm

We have auto transfers that go to our savings each month. It's super easy and we dont miss it at all. It is a small amount but in the future we hope to increase the amount. Every little bit helps!

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7 Tere November 18, 2010 at 1:46 pm

My kids are grown, so my whole paycheck goes into savings now to help pay for his college. I encourage everyone to put as much as they can into their employer's retirement accounts.

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8 Ashlee November 18, 2010 at 2:06 pm

We are in a different situation now living off student loans and scholarships while my husband finishes law school. But once upon a time when I worked full time I had 8% of my income sent to my 401K where my company matched 5%. I never missed that money and now after working only 2 years there the money is worth over $8,000! I plan to do something similar with savings when my husband starts working.

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9 Lindsey November 18, 2010 at 2:51 pm

I have an automatic transfer set up; $50 every Friday gets put in. We don't miss the money at all because it was never ours to use. And wouldn't you know, Monday my hubs truck starting acting up? That's how these things go!

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10 CrazyLotusGirl November 18, 2010 at 8:02 pm

My husband said we couldn't afford to save yet because we have a credit card balance of like we need to pay off (we were recently married, that sure was expensive, even as thrifty/frugal as I am!) I decided I would still save whether he liked it or not haha. I set up a savings account at a different bank than the one we usually use. I opted for no atm card, no online access, and quarterly statements instead of monthly. I told my husband about it and listed him as beneficiary - but his name is not on the account (he is fine with this BTW). I started it off by putting all of our rolled up change in it, and any winnings from our weekly poker tournaments. I clean house for a woman twice a month - that money goes in there too. Anytime my husband gives me cash (isn't he sweet) I tuck it away... I also saved the gift money from the wedding - he was pretty smashed that night when we opened the cards so he has no idea how much we got! I recently decided to put away 10% of all my paychecks and he let me start taking 10% of his shortly after (which are a lot more than mine!)
Yesterday I asked him, just out of curiousity, how much he thought I had in my "Secret Savings Account" and he guessed $1,500. I can't wait until the time comes when I get to show him...I am terrible at keeping secrets so I can't believe I have done so well at this! When he got temporarily laid off recently I wasn't even really worried. Because I have over $4,000! in my "Secret Savings Account" that I started less than 6 months ago...
Imagine when the time comes when we do need that money - What if we get pregnant, what if I get in another car accident, what if he got hurt at work, what if we want to take a vacation! I can't even explain the feeling of ease I have when I think about this, because I feel like "we will be ok" no matter what :) And that feeling is priceless...

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11 Jennifer November 19, 2010 at 9:21 am

This is amazing! I'm so happy for you! That is a great start!! Have you looked into the Dave Ramsey? His Baby Steps to give you a good method of setting up an emergency fund, saving up 3-6 months of your monthly income (in case of unemployment, and of course paying of those nasty credit cards....!!!!!
You may look into that...I don't even have a ton of debt...and that book inspired me to save my money in a different way!!

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