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Pay Yourself First! ©
Sam X Renick

I'll never forget my father. He was and is my hero. I still hear him clearly today.

“Son, in the United States, you can accomplish any dream, if you work hard, have a plan and take consistent action. It doesn't matter how much you have to start. Anyone can make dreams come true if they're willing to pay the price. Make sure you get in the habit of paying yourself first. Take a part of everything you receive and immediately get it out of your hands. That will make it a lot easier for you to resist daily spending temptations that compromise your dreams. Save. Invest. Put money into real estate, stocks or your own business. Don't trade your hopes and dreams for less than you deserve. Son, make your dreams come true!”

According to my father's formula, I have always felt it smart to at a minimum take at least 10 percent off the top. When I first started working, I personally took 33 percent off the top, because I felt I was in a window of opportunity where my expenses were artificially low. Additionally, whenever I received a raise, I'd take half of that raise and allocate it to saving and investment accounts. The other half went to taxes and increasing my standard of living.

Here are some tips on getting money out of your hands:
1. Have money automatically deducted from your paycheck and directed to long-term saving and investment accounts, such as 401(k)s, Individual Retirement Accounts and Thrift Savings accounts.
2. Don't keep large balances in your checking account. This will help keep you from overspending. It is worth the inconvenience of having to transfer money periodically from other accounts to meet unexpected expenses. Same goes for the ATM. Take minimal amounts from the ATM and make more trips to the ATM. Cash spent from ATM withdrawals tends to be largely unaccounted for.
3. Never carry more than one credit card with you. Pay off monthly balances. Naturally, never add to a credit card company's profits at the expense of your own dreams by paying monthly interest charges and late fees.

Sam X Renick is the author of two financial books for children: It’s a Habit, Sammy Rabbit! and Will Sammy Ride the World’s First Space Coaster?; he also produced the music CD titled Get in the Habit!; and is the founder of The It’s a Habit! Company, Inc., a socially conscious corporation dedicated to providing parents and educators with wholesome, entertaining and educational tools that help them encourage children to develop good habits, especially saving money.

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