I strongly encourage you to pay Yourself First, then pay Your Bills Last

You might be scoffing, thinking I obviously don’t understand your financial situation.  But hear me out…

Tell me, why do you have to look at your balance in your personal checking account to make sure you have enough to cover a bill or to pay for something you want?

Where did it all go?

It feels like it was a good month at the gym…lots of new members, plenty of renewals, low attrition.

I was certain I’d have plenty left over.” Funny how your profits seems to pull a Houdini magic trick every month when it’s time to pay yourself.

This cycle will continue unless you Pay Yourself First.

Most people pay all of their bills at the gym and bills at home before they pay themselves anything (Matt and Peter…sound familiar?). Wouldn’t it be nice to set aside a little bit each month toward retirement, toward the principle on your mortgage, or even to treat yourself to a weekend away with your significant other?

However, each week and each month you find yourself continuing in the same pattern, always wondering why you can’t seem to get ahead.

Paying yourself first means exactly that. Each month write yourself a check for your salary, it could be as little as $1,000. Even better, automate it so you have an automatic transfer from your business account to your personal savings account.

Nearly every bank provides this automation through your online banking service/bill pay. Before you start paying bills at work or at home, make sure you pay yourself.

You can even go one-step further and at any online retirement fund website, i.e. www.fidelity.com, set up your Roth IRA and have $416 automatically deposited into your account toward a fund of your choice.

By the end of the year, you will have maxed out your $5,000 limit on your Roth IRA account.  Do that for 25 years and you’re going to look pretty good come retirement time.

Maybe you already have a strong retirement account building, but you would just like a toy or an occasional vacation to be able to enjoy life a little more. There is nothing wrong with that…you only live once…so live it up!

A new motorcycle or jet ski can be yours for as little as $80/month (That’s only $20/week for a fun toy to play with!)

However, you might wonder what happens if you don’t have enough left to pay your bills after paying yourself? It’s funny the phenomenon that happens. When you pay yourself first, your pressure to pay your other creditors is so strong that it forces you to work harder for that extra income.

Without even realizing it, you follow up with a few more missed guests, you ask a few more people for referrals, you spend a few extra minutes training your sales staff, you take an hour and attend your local Chamber of Commerce event, you take a moment to ask members if they would like a refreshing post-workout drink, you send an extra thank you card or gift card.

You’ll work more efficiently rather than waste time, you’ll become more creative in the ways you can generate more revenue at your gym, and it will make you smarter and more proactive when it comes to your personal finances.

Bottom line: It will not take much to make that extra mo’ney. However, because you paid yourself first, you know you need to be a bit more productive this month. However, it’s a wonderful feeling writing yourself a check each week or seeing your shiny new motorcycle or anticipating that weekend getaway with your family.

Try it.  You might just like it!

Dedicated to your success…


P.S.  Seriously, go write yourself a check for $1,000 right now and see just how quickly you can make it back.  You will surprise yourself!

What do you think?  Have you tried this?  Are you nervous about trying it?  Let me know below!

    23 replies to "Pay Yourself First, Pay Your Bills Last"

    • Hey Curtis, we have been doing this since buying our gym almost 4 years ago. Its not much and there is no way we could live on it, but combined with fees from our trainers and the pt we do ourselves, we can just about afford a family home rental in Sydney(3rd most expensive city to live in). I have been thinking for a while that everyone else had a raise but not us, so perhaps we can have one and force ourselves to go the extra step and take on some more pt and work harder everyday on creating leads and making sales. Hope you are well! Thanks for the perspective.

      • I 100% believe you should give yourself a raise. Start small. Say $500 per month. See how well you survive. When all goes well, bump it to $1000 per month. You will be amazed at how much you can actually pay yourself and still have the business be in the exact same financial position. It takes a little faith, but it works!

    • Hey thanks Curtis, I guess you planned this post to come out at the end of the month but it was perfectly timed for me! I have been going through this very dilemma – bills vs wages for the last 2 nights and you have given me the shove I needed to pay myself and I’m confident I will produce the extra money for the bills with the extra pressure to focus me. Also reassuring to know its not just me in this situation! Thanks for the well timed confidence boost! Jamie

      • It’s definitely not just you Jamie. It’s human nature. It’s the exact same as Parkinson’s Law for getting things done:

        “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”

        Whether you give yourself a week to get a job done, or an hour, in both cases you find you’re successful.

        Same with money. If you pay yourself at the beginning of the month, by the end of the month you’ll have just enough money to cover everything that you normally pay for. It’s kind of mind blowing, but it works!

    • Bill

      great article, $$ is a great motivator.

      • Absolutely. While money doesn’t buy happiness, it sure does buy a lot of things that bring happiness! When was the last time you saw someone frowning on a jet ski? Even for people who aren’t motivated by money or toys, they realize money is still important. And they realize that the more of it they have, the less they stress they have in their lives. Pay yourself first.

    • More great advice! Thanks, Curtis! Scott

      • You bet Scott. See you at the Mastermind Meeting this month!

    • Fit Factory

      I knew I liked you for a reason! I deal with this every single month. I do take a modest salary, but I’ve never taken a distribution from the business. I’ve owned it for 3 years, 2 of those years profitable, but I always seem to find other places to put the money. It’s time to get paid! I’m going to go write myself a check for $2,000 right now. We’ll see if your little experiment works when it comes time to pay bills at the end of February 🙂 I have no doubt I’ll be just fine. And I’ll have a little extra padding in my own personal account. Thanks again Curtis

      • The experiment will work. You know the number you have to reach. You will reach it.

    • Lewis

      What if you can’t even cover rent? Then what? I’ve been short on rent at the gym the past two months. I always end up paying a week or so late, but it’s still late. I can just imagine how late I’d be if I paid MYSELF more. I like the idea in theory, I just don’t think it’s right for someone in a negative financial position. Good read though.

      • Ah, a skeptic. Here’s my soapbox statement on that. You have enough money each month to cover your home rent/mortgage, you have food in your stomach, you have money for gas in your car, you cover your car payment, you cover insurance, you pay your electric bill, and countless other expenses just fine each month.


        Because of the consequences. You can’t go hungry, you don’t want the bank to come get your house, you need a car to get to work, you need insurance so you’re not up shit creek when an accident happens, and you don’t want the electric company to shut off your power.

        I guarantee that if your landlord said you need to pay on time this month or he’s deadbolting your door, YOU WILL PAY ON TIME. Some how, some way, the money will appear. But you have some flexibility from him/her. So in your mind, end of the month due date, isn’t the true due date. The due date you have in your mind is a week or so after the end of the month. At which time you do indeed have the money to pay. The best thing your landlord could do for you is to force an on time payment.

        Look at it this way, if you paid yourself an extra $500 this month, I guarantee you would still pay rent a week or two late.

        I hope that makes sense, because this is a very valuable business lesson to understand. It’s hard to see it when you feel upside down, but it really does work.

    • Hi Curtis!
      I just recently discovered you thanks to your friend Trudi. So far nothing you have said has let me down. You Rock actually!
      This article shouts at me. My self and another women own a small gym in a small town. Times are tough and we haven’t paid ourselves in two months. This advise of yours terrifies and excites me at the same time.
      It might just be the motivation we need.
      Thanks for the push!

      • Hey Stacy! I’m glad to have you in my world now. Even if you only pay yourself $200 each, I am certain you’ll find it’s not missed. Then the next month try $400. You might be thinking you can’t pay yourself the $6k per month that you’d like to pay yourself, but you have to start somewhere and then work your way up!

        Go back and watch all of the past video episodes on this site. There are some great free nuggets of info that I’m sure you’ll be able to implement in 2012.

        Also, a little secret when commenting on this blog (a trick very few take advantage of) is to put something like “Seward Fitness” as your name. Then it gives you a quality link back to your website that Google will love. Watch the first few minutes of this episode for more info: http://tinyurl.com/76k2mg3

        Good luck!

    • Hey Curtis!

      Great article bro! I just started doing this and it feels great. Such peace of mind to see some actual cash in the account.
      Plus I’m saving up for another Sam event to share a beer with you again. Keep in touch!


      • I agree. People think that money often causes problems…but for most of us, it truly does bring peace! Most of the people who say money isn’t important…don’t have any. And yes, a beer sounds great. You’re buying..

    • Hey Curtis,
      Just thought Id update you after I bit the bullet and paid myself before bills…. I Smashed it on the last day of the month and took enough Cash to pay all my bills anyway!!

      • You don’t know how much that warms the heart brother! And you only had a day to do it!! Think if you had 30. Pay yourself at the beginning of the month, or enough time before other bills so you can have plenty of time to have your motivation soar.

        Awesome job!

    • TTC_Joe

      I will take your advice and start doing this as of today!

    • What’s up mates, how is all, and what you wish for to say concerning this paragraph, in my
      view its in fact amazing in favor of me.

    • Do you have any video of that? I’d like to find out some additional information. plenty of fish natalielise

    • Hello there! I know this is kinda off topic but
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