Pay Yourself First

By Jennie Hastings
[Mindful Money]

In this column, we examine ways to become more mindful about money. We have looked at our limiting beliefs about money, determined what we value in ourselves and in the material world, and learned to forgive ourselves for past money mistakes. But we have not talked much about saving money.
This may seem odd, as saving money might be one of the first things you think of when you think of being mindful with money. But saving money is not easy. Becoming someone who saves money takes a shift in consciousness. Until we feel good about saving, it will never happen.
Why is it important to feel good about saving? Because doing something we do not like to do out of sheer willpower is a tough row to hoe. For all things in life, if we want to get better at doing them, it is best to find the authentic pull of attraction from within ourselves. Usually this means replacing old beliefs with new ones.
I never used to save money. It simply felt impossible. The story I was telling myself was, “How can I save money when I have so little of it?” I thought every dime I had was needed for something vital. It was true that I did not have much discretionary income. But then I started working for a chiropractor, Lou Jacobs. He provided me with the first steps of business and life coaching. I became aware that the story I was telling myself was something I had decided to be true, but it was not actually the truth. I learned I could start telling myself a different story.     

Shifting Assumptions
I began to look at all the abundance in my life and feel gratitude for it. I started to feel thankful when I turned on the faucet and clean water came flowing out. I began to realize that having a refrigerator with food in it was an incredible blessing. As this shift happened, I began to feel better within myself and stopped comparing my shoes with other people’s shoes.
My consciousness shifted as I started to see the abundance around me. It suddenly felt possible to save 10 percent of my income. I opened a savings account and linked it to my checking account. Every time I went to the ATM to make a deposit I would automatically move 10 percent into my savings account. When my work switched over to direct deposits, every pay period I would log into my account online and move the 10 percent.
What I was doing was paying myself first. Think about it for a minute. When you get money, do you deposit it and start paying all your bills, sending it all away to other people? What if you paid yourself first? What if the first thing you did when you got money was put it in an account for you? This is all that savings is. When you put money into your savings account, you are paying yourself for all the work you did to get that money. No matter what amount it is, paying yourself first is a way of shifting your consciousness away from not having to having.
At the beginning, saving 10 percent of my income did not feel like a lot. The number in my account was not very impressive. But then something mysterious happened. When I moved the money into my savings account it felt like I had spent it. I easily could have spent it on food, shoes, or concert tickets. Yet somehow, even though I “spent” my money on savings instead of on something to eat or wear, I did not seem to miss it that much in my budget. Somehow, I still did the things I wanted to do and dressed the way I wanted to dress. I had to be a little more creative about it, for sure, but that was not a bad thing.
As I became more used to saving, my savings took on a life of its own. Before I knew it, little windfalls came my way and went into savings. I would get a rebate, or a refund, and it was free money and I could put it into my account. I watched the number get bigger. Then, I got a generous Christmas gift from my grandmother, and bam, my savings doubled overnight. It was like the universe heard about my effort and decided to get in on the action.    

Empowering the Next Step
When it became clear that my time working for Dr. Lou had come to an end, I was at a crossroads. I wanted to open my own massage therapy practice, but I knew it would take a while for me to create the income I wanted from a business of my own. Fortunately, I had a savings account. Having that fiscal and mental cushion made it possible for me to take the leap to open my own practice. I never knew what I had been saving for, but because I chose to pay myself first for a year or two, I had the money I needed to make the leap.
Stop looking at saving money as something you should do, or as something that cramps your style. Start looking at saving money as an investment in your dreams that are still perhaps unknown to you. Pay yourself first for all the work you do and notice how you do not miss the money you put away. In many ways, it does not matter how much you save, only that you do it regularly and feel good about it. Undoubtedly, the universe will notice your efforts and more abundance will be sent your way.

Jennie Hastings, LMT, BCTMB, has studied money in the therapeutic process from every angle: as a client, patient, and practitioner. From the very beginning of her bodywork career, she received business training and coaching. Now she helps other massage therapists break through limiting beliefs about money with private and group coaching. She can be reached at