Christmas is around the corner, which means many Americans are buying gifts, putting items on layaway, and even getting into debt to afford items for their loved ones. However, in a time where instant gratitude and lots of presents under the Christmas tree is a big deal, you don’t have to fall for the hype. Instead, here’s how to pay yourself first this Christmas, and why you should.
How to Pay Yourself First This Christmas…and Why You Should
This post has been written by our talented staff writer, Kimberly Studdard.
What does pay yourself first mean?
First things first, what does pay yourself first even mean? Basically, paying yourself first means that before you take out money for living expenses, whether fixed or variable, you instead give yourself a portion of the money to save or invest.
- This could mean taking out money and putting it in a savings account.
- Or, you could save the money in a 401(k) or Roth IRA.
The gist is that you’re taking the money and putting it away to use later should you need it. So how can you do that around Christmas time?
Have A Goal
Paying yourself first doesn’t mean you have to save half of every single paycheck. If you haven’t tried this method yet, it can be intimidating to start saving and investing a lot of money at one time.
So instead, have a goal.
It could be as little as saving 5% of every paycheck until Christmas. Or, if you like thinking about amounts instead of percentages, aim to save at least $20 a paycheck.
It doesn’t have to be grand to be considered saving money. Start small and have a goal in mind. Once you get used to saving, you’ll be surprised to see how easy it is. You may even decide to increase your goal!
If you have multiple family members, or if you’re used to buying a bunch of gifts for people, this year is the year to say no.
Part of trying to pay yourself first this Christmas means you have to say no to all the extra. Your loved ones don’t need 5 different gifts from you. Your kids don’t need all the latest toys. That isn’t what Christmas is really supposed to be about anyway.
Instead, tell those that you’re shopping for that they will get one gift this year, and set a monetary amount if you have to! There is no sense being stressed about purchasing gifts if you don’t have to be. If they don’t like it, so be it. Your financial well-being is more important.
Save Before Christmas
If you plan on spending extra money before Christmas, you can still pay yourself first beforehand! In fact, you can start now!
I understand that Christmas can cost quite a bit, especially if you’re hosting parties or doing all the cooking and gift buying. However, if you’re paying yourself first beforehand, it’s okay to slack off a bit around Christmas. Whatever paycheck you receive right before Christmas doesn’t have to go towards you paying yourself first, but all of the paychecks before that one should!
Auto-Deduct Your Paycheck
Out of sight, out of mind, right?
If you really want to pay yourself first this Christmas, but you’re scared you won’t go through with it, auto-deduct the amount you want to save! You can usually do this through your company by talking to HR. You can also get a bank account set up that automatically transfers a certain amount for you each time you get paid. Either way, if you don’t see the money coming in, you most likely won’t miss it or spend it.
Why You Should Pay Yourself First This Christmas
Now that you know how to pay yourself first this Christmas, let me tell you why you should.
As great as it may feel to give gifts and see your loved ones happy, it’s important to take care of you too. You need savings. You need to have the option to retire someday without being stressed about money. Your loved ones, believe it or not, don’t really need the gifts you’re giving them.
If you pay yourself first this Christmas, you’ll also set a great example of why it’s important to take care of yourself and your finances. You can’t expect the people around you to be careful with their money if you aren’t being careful with yours.
While Christmas is a fun and festivity filled holiday for many, it doesn’t have to mean financial issues or debt. You can pay yourself first this Christmas and still have an amazing holiday!
Are you ready to pay yourself first this Christmas?
AUTHOR Kimberly Studdard
Kim Studdard is a project manager for online entrepreneurs and small businesses. When she isn't spending time with her daughter and husband, or reading her growing pile of horror books, you'll find her working on her HR degree and working towards FIRE.