Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pay Yourself First

"Pay Yourself First" is a common saying in financial advice. It means that before you pay any bills or make any purchases after receiving a paycheck, you put away money in savings. (I would add that tithing comes first before self payment, but most financial advisers don't take that into account. We do.) The purpose of that is two fold: First, to help you prioritize your money use. If you have money leave your account before you even see the numbers in your account, like an automatic withdrawal to a savings account, 401k, or some other account, you aren't tempted to spend it. Second, it helps prioritize YOU. Who is going to take your needs to heart more seriously than yourself? It's not about selfishness, or saying "ME! ME! ME!" When you are done raising children and they are on their own, with their own young families and tight budgets, do you want to have to turn to them and ask them for support?  No one wants to do that. We all want to be self sufficient, to care for ourselves and be generous with our means. Without paying ourselves first, we miss out on those blessings. It's a way to protect your future AND theirs. (Now I know this isn't always possible. BELIEVE me. I know. But it's a really smart thing to strive for.)

As writers and mommies and Mormons, we have to portion out our time in much the same way. I could go off the deep end in keeping my house clean. I have five kids, three of which are boys. I could do three loads of laundry every day and still not be caught up. We are moving this weekend and I did five loads yesterday, 4 of which were created by my boys. I have visiting teaching to do. I was (until Sunday) the primary chorister, which involved preparation and work (and Energy!). My husband was High Priest Group leader and commutes 2 hours everyday to work. He is busy. My oldest is 15 1/2 and is anxious to learn how to drive. She's also heavily involved in extracurricular activities at school, which means more running around for mom. Oh, and did I mention I was moving? And I have kids that need to eat? All. The. Time.

Just like all of you, I have demands on my time that keep me from writing. In my mind, though, there are some clear parallels with "Pay yourself first". I get a set amount of hours in the day, 24, just like you. I have time that's already portioned out for sleeping, personal care, and the "Mommy Tithe", that time that I need to spend with and for my kids and husband that is not about me. But there is discretionary time. (Not a lot this week, but still.) Time I sometimes spend frivolously on time wasters. We each have them. Things that help us build ourselves as writers are not necessarily time wasters, but there's only so much "networking" I can do via Facebook, email, or Twitter before it starts to suck the pennies of my day down a black hole until my time wallet is empty. And then another day goes by and I haven't written.

So pay yourself first. Only you know what your schedule is, and only you can determine when you can write. But set yourself and your family down and say, "I love you. I love serving you and caring for you and spending time with you. But writing is something that Heavenly Father has inspired me to do. I have to magnify this talent he has given me. So from now on, during "XYZ" time, this is the time Mommy is writing. If I lock the door, or ask your older sister to help you get a snack, it's not because I don't love you. It's that I need to do something that the Lord has asked me to do."

Then stick to it. That's your time. Pay yourself first. Your book, your family, and the Lord will thank you. I promise if you do this, you will find your writing grow stronger, your inspiration more consistent, and your production more abundant. You will train your mind and heart to prepare for that time so when you do sit down, the flood gates will open and you will have the words to put on paper.


  1. This is so true,Megan! I had to remind myself several times yesterday that taking care of me matters, as I made arrangements for kids to get picked up from activity days and cross country practice so I could go to my pilates class. I questioned myself in the decision to even take the class. What made me think I would possible have the time to do this? But then I remembered how good I feel about myself when I do it.
    The time for writing has been harder to find, but I am do better!

  2. Great way to think about it. Thank you!!



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