Commentary

January 31, 2013

Pay yourself first

Commentary by Maj. Austin Hood
23rd Space Operations Squadron Det. 1

THULE AIR BASE, Greenland (AFNS) — My grandparents used to say to me, “Pay yourself first.” Being only 10 years old at the time, I’d shrug my shoulders, give them my best thanks-for-the-advice look and say “OK.” But deep down inside, I didn’t really know what they meant. After all, I was just a kid with no money. Thirty short years later, I’ve come to have a richer understanding of their advice and I use it to support the Air Force core values through balanced planning, prioritization and discipline.

Though we may never know who first uttered those words, the fact that they endure lends credibility to their soundness. In the literal sense, while living within one’s means, paying yourself first means setting aside money for one’s needs before fulfilling one’s wants.

For example, every month I unwittingly used to make sure all my credit card bills were covered, then tried to make life work with what I had left over. Now, I set aside money for my family’s goals and dreams first and still manage to pay my bills each month.

Enjoying life is one of the reasons I work so hard for my money.

The pay-yourself-first idea can be adapted to other aspects of life as well. It uses the same approach of balanced planning, prioritization and discipline. The intent is to invest in yourself while the resources exist and not letting external influences detract from planned goals. In practice, there are many ways to invest in yourself other than through personal finances.

Consider what happens after taking a class, learning a skill, practicing good diet and exercise or preparing for an upcoming event. I find I’m better equipped to accept change and better postured to tackle unforeseen obstacles. In the case of personal finances, setting aside 10 to 20 percent of my income for long-term savings and investments positions me to overcome a bad economy, provide stability for my family and ready us to do the things we’ve always wanted to do. In the world of fitness, investing in my well being affords me the tools to negotiate life’s obstacles and have peace of mind. Investing in my education yields higher pay opportunities, increased responsibility and a more diverse perspective of the world around me.

Investing in myself is where the Air Force core value of Service Before Self comes in. What? Sounds like the opposite, right? The pay-yourself-first concept I’m talking about is not a selfish act, but rather a strengthening of myself to be in a position to help others. Just like the safety brief you get on commercial airlines about putting on your oxygen mask before helping others with theirs; if I can’t help myself, how can I help others? Many of us volunteer our time to mentor, serve, comfort and contribute to worthy charities and causes. Developing myself in this way keeps me ready to help others. However, growing in this way has to be deliberate.

When I pay myself first, I strive for a balanced approach to planning. Many aspects influence my planning but here are a few: family, friends and career; short, medium and long term; wants and needs, known and unknown. Each aspect needs to be in the right balance or mix to make the most of my resources. I find that the balance shifts through time as things change, so I readdress my plans regularly.

Once my family and I decide on a plan, we prioritize the parts so we know which aspects in life will get our efforts when time and resources become constrained. To stay focused, I often think to myself, “A priority is what I’m doing right now; so, I need to make sure what I’m doing right now is actually one of my priorities.” My family and I are honest with ourselves in the process and shape our plan and expectations accordingly. Realistic expectations and prioritization are key to financial and long-term planning as they let us know where the trade spaces are to make the best use of resources.

With a prioritized and balanced plan, all that is left is to execute and that takes discipline. My family sticks to the plan and our contributions complement each other. To stay within our means, for example, I repair my own vehicles and my wife runs the spreadsheets that keep us on track. As life is unpredictable, we recognize that unplanned things pop up and then decide whether these things warrant a change to the plan or not. With discipline and good judgment, we make the best choice for us as we continue to pay ourselves first.

Pay yourself first and you’ll embark on a journey with a new perspective. Pay yourself first and you’ll reinforce the Air Force core values. Pay yourself first and one day you’ll pass this advice onto the ones who matter most in your life.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Is being good, good enough?

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. – In today’s Air Force can you settle with just being good? I say, “No.” With the Air Force executing the deepest force cuts since the end of the cold war with programs such as the Quality Force Review Board and the Enlisted Retention Board, what you do and how well you...
 
 

Life is moving, move with it

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – “You can’t be neutral on a moving train” is a famous quote, and the title of a memoir and documentary about the life of author, historian and activist Howard Zinn. What this means is that things are happening all around us, and everything in life is moving in a certain direction....
 
 

Adaptability a ‘must’ in today’s Air Force

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. – Three years ago, I entered the Air Force as a general dentist. After completing four challenging years of dental school, I was eager to serve in the Air Force and use my newly developed skills to provide quality care to Airmen. What I quickly came to realize was the misconception that...
 

 

Are You Ready?

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. – When Air Force leadership announced they would need to cut about 25,000 Airmen over the next five years, many people wondered if they would be affected. A variety of programs were announced, including several allowing Airmen the option to retire early. The Air Force also allowed some Airmen the option to...
 
 
DT_pict3

Chief Master Sgt. Dawna M. Cnota bids farewell

Letter to My Airmen The time has come for me to hang up my uniform after 28 years of service.  Many emotions have competed for attention since I made this decision earlier this year.  There is pride, for the honorable service...
 
 

Motorcycle Safety: Watch out

Langley AFB, Va. – They are sentences that have been repeated by thousands, “I lost someone in a motorcycle accident” or even “I was hurt in a motorcycle accident”. In 2012 alone, 4,957 motorcyclists were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the U.S. with an additional 93,000 injured. Death is the ultimate price to pay for anything, and the odds of someone...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin