I have a book called “The Automatic Millionaire,” by David Bach. I bought it many years ago, before I was teaching yoga full time, but I pulled it out last year and re-read several parts of the book.
I found that it had a lot of good ideas that I could apply to my life today, the most important one being: “Pay Yourself First.” This concept applies to the idea of putting aside a bit of money each week from your earning, into a savings account. David suggests this be done automatically, via a withdrawl from your checking account to a personal savings account. I do it manually each week, as I like to build the discipline around doing the transaction. It makes me feel good each week and that “feel good” feeling has less to do with the actual amount I’m saving and much more to do with the fact that I’m taking a step to acknowledge my hard work.
This was something I did not do when I was working full time in the corporate world. Much of my saving in that phase of my life was done automatically and was towards retirement only but I didn’t take any action to save money into a personal savings account. There is something very rewarding about saving liquid cash. It gives you a sense of freedom as well as security. But more importantly, it helps you feel like the work you’re doing is not going without it’s tangible rewards.
Now, having said all that, the concept of “Paying Yourself First” doesn’t only apply to money. In fact, if the only way you are taking this kind of action is financially, you’ll most likely feel depleted on some level. We all know the stories of wealthy people that live without a sense of purpose or direction and feel somewhat empty inside.
As we get busier and busier in our lives, it gets harder and harder to find time to do things that we find rewarding and feed our passions. But in many ways, it’s our commitment to doing these things that will create more health in our life versus having a large bank account balance. Paying yourself first doesn’t have to be reserved for those long and involved activities, like a week-long vacation or a massage. It can be found in small things too.
Here are some ideas:
Buy yourself flowers
Carry a meaningful memento with you and look at it often
Go for a long walk
Hug a child
Get a manicure or pedicure
Eat a healthy lunch
Visit a farmer’s market
Train for a road race
Take a class on a topic you want to learn
Have lunch with a good friend
See a movie or rent one that hold special meaning
Call someone you love
Have the courage to say, “I love you”
Take a risk to try something new
Go to the beach (or the slopes, if that’s more your thing)
Buy a new bedspread or nice sheets
Download some new music you love and that inspires you
Start a collection of meaningful things or something that reflects your passion
The point isn’t the dollar value of the activity; in fact, many of these things don’t cost anything to do. It’s more about taking the time to do something you enjoy and to acknowledge yourself.
So, how are you going to pay yourself today?