We've all heard the advice over and over again: "you've got to have an emergency fund", "you must save money for retirement", and the one I hear David Bach say on Oprah and The Millionaire Inside on CNBC: "pay yourself first".

"That's all good advice," I used to say, "but I have plenty of bills I have to pay. What about those?" A few years later, I still had bills, but my nest egg wasn't any bigger than it had been when I first heard the advice. That is, until I changed my mindset about saving money.

I concluded that if I treat my regular savings deposits like another bill I had to pay...something similar to say, for example, rent or groceries...I would rebuild my savings in no time. So, that is what I did. Every payday, no matter what, I write a check to my savings account equal to ten percent of my net pay. Some finance experts say you should save ten percent of your gross pay, but hey...I have other bills, too.

I treat these payments just like regular bill payments. In fact, I treat it like it is my most important bill payment. I'll always find a way to eat, pay rent and keep the lights one, but I can't always go back and wish I had a savings account and all the interest my savings could have accumulated if I had just made those payments. In fact, by missing a payment I would be penalizing myself...in the form of lost interest and lost money.

When I get paid, my "bill payment" to my savings account is the one that gets paid first. The other bills come after my savings payment. If I have an unexpected expense, one that is truly an emergency, well...that's what the savings account is for. By treating myself as bill collector who must be paid no matter what, I am ensuring that money is there for true emergencies and critical expenses. No, a new TV is not a critical expense. If your refrigerator dies and you just bought groceries, that would be a critical expense.

So, don't think of savings as merely "paying yourself first". It's too easy to skip it and send your money to a different bill collector. Be your own bill collector, and watch your nest egg grow.


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