Commentary

February 15, 2013

Pay yourself first

Maj. Austin Hood
Thule AB, Greenland

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.


 
 

 

News Briefs November 14, 2014

Federal benefits open season This year, Edwards is hosting the annual Benefit Health Fair 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Nov. 20 in Bldg. 3000 for both Edwards and NASA federal employees. The event will be in the main conference room (123) and lobby. Several health and dental plan representatives will be available to answer questions. During open...
 
 
AAFES photograph by Jusika Martinez

AAFES, Dickies present big check to local Airman

AAFES photograph by Jusika Martinez Air National Guard Senior Airman Veronica Lemus (right), 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard,†poses for a photo with a large check and Chief Master Sgt. Bonnie Balthrop, 146th...
 
 
smoke-out

2014 Great American Smokeout Nov. 20

Join Edwards AFB and the American Cancer Society in observing the Great American Smokeout Nov. 20. All employees are invited to join in this observance, by setting a quit day, or by supporting your colleagues on this day. Sta...
 

 
Untitled-1

Edwards flight test community prepares for federal spectrum auction

Air Force graphic As flight vehicles increase in complexity, so does their data requirements. This graphic of a typical aircraft displays the integrated sensors and avionics system with major components showing how each compone...
 
 

Volunteer groups raise funds while helping service members wrap up the perfect present

Edwards Air Force Base – Community groups can raise funds for their worthy causes while spreading some holiday cheer as the Edwards Air Force Base Exchange is actively soliciting partners for the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s annual community gift wrap program. “In order to make the holidays a little easier, we partner with...
 
 
fun-run1

NAIH Month 5K Run/Walk held in memory of Code Talkers

In honor of National American Indian Heritage Month, and in memory of World War I and II “Code Talkers,” Team Edwards hosted a 5K run/walk Nov. 12 at the Rosburg Fitness Center. Of the more than 20 runners and walke...
 




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>