Pay yourself first means bill payments to Us Inc.

Pay yourself first means bill payments to Us Inc.

Pretty much anyone who has read anything about personal finance has heard the mantra:  pay yourself first.  David Chilton popularized this mantra with The Wealthy Barber and reinvigorated it again in The Wealthy Barber Returns, two of my favourite personal finance books by the way.

I’ve been giving this financial rule some thought recently, and how it applies to our personal finances, specifically how we manage and build our emergency fund.   Here’s what it means to us:  it’s a bill payment.

  • Payments to Us Inc. are automatic.   We have a super simple automatic savings plan.  Every month, money from our chequing account is automatically transferred to our savings emergency fund.  Note:  the emergency fund is now at this amount.  We must find a way every month to ensure this “expense” happens.  Now that our line of credit is paid off, we need to pay this bill like any other around our house.  Actually, this payment is a line item in our budget, just like the mortgage, our cell phone bills, our hydro and our gas bills to name a few.
  • Payments to Us Inc. have a timeline.   These automatic payments won’t last forever.  For our financial situation, we’ll keep doing this until we meet our emergency fund target:  $10,000.  After that, we’ll likely divert this money into investments.  A reminder about an emergency fund:  we need this account because some of the major things we own, like a car, will break down at some point.  We are planning for the unplanned.
  • Payments to Us Inc. are not to be touched.  Like any bill payment, once it’s paid, you rarely get an opportunity to get your money back.  Once the payment is gone to the payee, us in this case, that’s it.  Money that goes into our emergency fund is truly that.  This is not spending money or fun money.  Money that needs to be spent, for fun, for travel is saved in another account.

In closing, I guess we consider Us Inc. a creditor, someone we owe money to.  Bills are paid every month to Us Inc., on an automated schedule like many other bill payments to grow our savings for the “what ifs” in life or for investing purposes.

When it comes to our savings, we’re trying to KISS it all the way (Keep It Simple Saver).

What about you?  Do make bill payments to Us Inc. or Me Inc. for savings, for investments or both?

10 Responses to "Pay yourself first means bill payments to Us Inc."

  1. David Chilton is the man. I thought the part in the original Wealthy Barber where he talked about how someone could do everything else wrong in personal finance, but if you followed the pay yourself first rule (10%) you would be just fine, was really interesting. I think he should mastermind a high school curriculum for the country!

  2. We have an emergency fund that is funded flexibly because my husband’s cheques are erratic. The more he makes the more goes in. However we also have a car fund (for future car purchase) and a car maintenance fund for car emergencies just like our home maintenance fund. These are not emergencies per se. These are planned expenses. An emergency is my hubby getting in a car accident and not being able to work. So we keep those savings entirely separate. After 3 years now we no longer get surprised by a regular expense. (A new timing belt for example)

    1. Smart idea about having a planned expense for the car. We have a small fund for “operating expenses” around our house, and our car is one of them. If the car totally goes, then kick-in the emergency fund.

  3. Hi Mark,

    The idea of paying yourself first is a great one. However, I’ve seen people mess it up. They get the first part right where they save some amount out of each pay, but then they fail to reduce their other spending. The result is usually a growing line of credit. Part of the idea of paying $200 to yourself first each month is that your other expenses must drop by $200 per month. Because you’ve paid off your line of credit, I’m guessing that you’re getting this right, but too many people get it wrong.


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