4 Money Tips to Help Put First Things First
Updated: May 20
What should you pay first to keep your finances under control? We're going to discuss four key principles to help put those first things first and take the doubt out of your finances!
Have you ever gone to the mailbox and dreaded what was waiting for you? Maybe you put that mail, likely full of bills, aside and avoided even opening it for fear of what was there. Here are four principles that will help you control your finances, keep that mail from piling up unopened and help you keep your first things first!
The Four Walls
The principle of the four walls is used whenever you have a regular income of any kind (self-employed, commission-based, etc.) or you find yourself with more expenses than you have income. If either or both of those situations includes you, you want to consider applying the principle of the four walls to how you distribute your money when you get it, ensuring you stay in control and put your dollars in correct priority—first things first!
Make sure you put food on the table. Even if that means you can't pay your credit card bill this month. You must have food. Draw a line in the sand and tell your credit card, "I would love to pay you but can't right now; I will come up with another arrangement." This is critical. You must feed you and your family first!
Yes, I have met people who are not eating and, instead, pay credit card bills first. That thinking is toxic and you need to run far from that mentality. Stop trying to please everyone. If you are in a situation where you can't pay both, put first things first and put food on the table.
This would be your mortgage or rent and basic utilities. Basic utilities would include gas, electric, water but not cable.Cable is not a priority! Keep the lights on, the heat on, the water bill paid. Keep those essentials in place.
This doesn't mean you buy designer brands. Maybe not even Gap. But, what it does mean is you are buying the essentials you need.
Prioritize your transportation. If you do have a car payment and can't get out of it, make sure you are making the car payment. Also, check out my previous Savvy Saturday post on "Why Used Cars Are Smarter!" Investing in a used car can be a great long term investment for your family that doesn't break the bank. If you have a car payment, make the payment and keep your car in operating form to keep it moving both safely and legally. Those costs can include license and registration, a car maintenance budget and gas to operate the vehicle.
Very simply,focus on keeping these four walls in place: food, shelter, clothing and transportation.
If you can't pay everything within your current income, you need to put the first things first and prioritize your expenses. Be sure to still budget all of your expenses, but these first four things should get your dollars first. You want to make sure you have food to survive, shelter to stay warm, transportation to get to work and clothing so you don't show up to the job naked. LOL! Don't compromise by paying your credit card payment or other existing debt before you ensure your four walls are sound, which will definitely work towards keeping your wallet heavy and your heart light.
Jeremy Edmonds | Jeremy is a full time financial wellness coach and has been in business since 2011. He's helped countless individuals and families reach their goals through guidance and accountability and has led thousands of hours of coaching. He lives with his wife and two daughters in New Haven, CT. Visit him at his website, on Facebook and on Instagram.