This scenario is certainly one with which millions of people can identify. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be that way. One of the most powerful and effective strategies for building wealth is to pay yourself first.
Start with your monthly billsWhen you set down to pay your bills, the first check you write should be to yourself. Decide on an amount you can commit to for at least six months and immediately pay that "bill" by depositing the money into your brokerage, mutual fund, or retirement accounts. You must do this even if you cannot afford it! Then, pay your other bills as usual. If you find that you do not have enough money to cover all the expenses, write down the amount you are short and then find a way to raise the money. If this means you have to recycle cans, switch to an off-brand cereal, work a few extra hours, or cancel your magazine subscriptions, do it.
But that's too hard!Think it sounds too hard? If so, you must answer this question for yourself: is the pain of giving up your "perks" greater than the pain of being in financial bondage? If it is, you need to resign yourself to remaining in the same financial situation for the rest of your life. In fact, if you are prone to using debt as a means of upgrading your lifestyle, the problem will probably grow worse with time.
Taking control of your finances creates a sense of empowerment that will reach into every area of your life. The freedom that comes from knowing that you and your family will be provided for regardless of what may come up cannot be expressed in words. It is something you will experience for yourself when you make the decision that being financially independent and secure is more important than impressing your neighbors with material goods.
Honor your WordOnce most people have given their word to someone, they are careful to keep their promise. They have no qualms, however, about lying to themselves. In order to be successful, you must honor your commitment. You cannot cut yourself any slack. As soon as you miss one "payment", odds are, you will miss another, then another, until you have stopped saving altogether. The secret to success in this game is not so much the amount of money you are investing, but the persistence with which you are doing it.