How many times have you gone into budgeting mode and figured out exactly how much money can get saved out of this check, but after only a few days that number is suddenly impossible to transfer. I think that happens to my wife and I every month. We make grand plans on where to put what money when there is an extra chunk coming in like a bonus at work, birthday money, or tax return. We might agree to use it for giving, debt reduction, savings, investments, or kids’ college funds. When it actually comes to setting that money where we agree it needs to go, it’s a fraction of what we originally decided on. There are two things that we’ve been working on together that have been making a huge effect on our ability to delay gratification in this area, so let’s talk about them. These are the practical action items that we do AFTER deciding together where the money should go. If you wing it, you will be paycheck to paycheck forever.

Don’t wait – carry out your money plan before you get a chance to wreck it.

The first thing we do when we get some extra money in the bank is to look at the account and sigh… “Ahh, that’s a good lookin’ number. One day, it will always look like that”. Then reality comes back to bop us on the forehead. The absolute first thing to do when that money hits your checking account is to follow through with your plan! Right now! Get on your mobile app or log in online and just send that money wherever you agreed to send it. Pay off the credit card, pay down your mortgage, or whatever it is you decided to do. Squandering money isn’t an option if it’s money you don’t have access to anymore. The lesson we’ve learned is to not wait. Execute your plan right away. We don’t succeed every time. But we try really hard. A note for tithing Christians on giving to the church – this is Biblical and can be seen in 2 Corinthians 9:7 where it says “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”. So tithe right away. I’ve postponed tithing until “after we see what that Costco trip will cost” and end up giving less than I planned on – the money was already spent. I get disappointed in myself every time that happens.

Put your money on autopilot – use discipline once to “set it and forget it” so you don’t ruin your own saving goals.

The second lesson is to set your finances on autopilot. This is for your regular pay more than it is for the extra chunks from the example above. If you struggle with making sure some money gets set aside in your Roth IRA each month, then listen up. Set that money to automatically transfer from your account on payday. Just about every bank has a way to do it. I promise that once you set things on autopilot, you will feel much more secure about your money. The weak link in my finances was me! I decided  the right percentage of each check that should be withheld for my 401K, and then I set it up to be automatic. Is your income regular? Then set up automatic tithing or giving money to come out. Do you have debt? Make automatic principal payments happen. Think of this like an injection of discipline into your life – you set it up once when your determination is high and then you can forget about it! One year from the day you set this up it will blow your mind how powerful this is. When it’s time to retire you wife will look up at you all googley-eyed and say “you are such a wise man! Thank you for reading all those years ago” or something like that, anyway 😉

There you have it – first thing is to actually do what you planned to do right away. Second thing is to automate your money as much as possible, because this removes the weak link (you) from your finance problems. It seems simple right? That’s because it is! Put your money on autopilot so that you don’t spend your retirement on a latte.

Let’s end average budget discipline. Let’s end average together.

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