First, Pay Yourself!

If you’re clipping and clipping and don’t have anything to show for it, then here’s what you need to do: Pay yourself. And do it before you do anything else!

Where Does It All Go?

Let’s not even talk about frivolous ways your money seems to disappear out of your Paypal account. A Carmel Macciato while you’re running errands, a quick stop for a loaf of bread, the Deal of the Day on Amazon, a few Candy Crush boosters. We all know those little expenditures can eat away at your Paypal account and we’ve all heard all the tips for curbing those urges if you want to control your money.

But here’s where a lot of your money goes and you probably didn’t even realize it.

Postage: If you’re using stamps that you buy at the Post Office for every single order you mail then you’re losing a ton of money – every single week. Go Here to watch our video titled, “How to Save Time and Money by Printing your Postage at Paypal”.

You might also want to check out Stamps.com. We’ve never used it here but some vendors do and I understand there’s also savings involved.

Envelopes, printer paper and ink: Shop around for the best deal and always know how much you’re willing to pay. Check dollar stores as well as stationery, department and drug stores. Always keep a good stock on hand so you’re not forced to pay top dollar if you run out.

Here’s the Big Culprit

As couponers we’re all of a similar stockpile-building mindset: If we see it at a great price we want to buy everything they have in stock. The same holds true when we’re talking about office and shipping supplies. When you see a great deal you want to buy enough to last a lifetime because, well, it’s such a great price, right? How can you pass it up? Before you know it you’re spending $60 on envelopes when you only had $40 budgeted.

And things like business cards and return address labels sneak up on you, too. Vistaprint makes it very attractive to order more than you wanted. So attractive you don’t even realize you’re spending more than you planned – until it’s too late.

Here’s Why Paying Yourself First Works

When we first started out we didn’t take any money out of our business at all. Not a single cent. Trust me, it doesn’t take long to lose interest in your business when you’re working 18 hours a day and not making any money. Once you lose interest in your business you need to find a way to get that lovin’ feelin’ again or you might as well hang it up.

It was only when we started paying ourselves first that we realized our business really was making money, we were just spending it wrong. When you take a chunk of money right off the top – before you do anything else – you’re forced to be a little wiser with how you spend the rest of it.

You’re also forced to take a long, hard look at your business.  Are you charging enough for your coupons?  Are you selling enough to make it worth your time and effort?  If not, how can you sell more?  Are you being just as smart about your business expenses as you are your household expenses?

And, just like your household budget, once you start focusing on what’s coming in and where it’s going, you start finding a lot more of it left in your wallet at the end of the month.

Put Your Personal Money In A Separate Location

Whether it’s a bank account, your wallet or your back pocket, take your ‘wages’ and your personal money and put them someplace separate from your business money.

We withdraw our weekly wage and our personal expense money from our Paypal account every week and leave everything else in our Paypal account. Then, we use our Paypal account or Paypal Debit Card to pay for all business expenses. Everything on our Paypal account is business-related. All personal expenditures are handled out of a separate bank account.

Pay Yourself, First

The next time you get your weekly Paypal transfer, pay yourself, first, before you do anything else.

Of course, as good business owners, we all always have an idea of what our weekly expenses are going to be so it’s difficult to set aside money for yourself, first, before you pay those bills. Resist that urge!

Even if you feel you can only pay yourself $1 or $5, or 10% of your sales, or some other tiny amount, do it, and do it before you do anything else.

If you’re using the income from your coupon clipping service to pay certain household bills, finance a vacation or buy groceries, set up a minimum weekly amount you need from your business and pay yourself first.

Here’s an example of how we set up our own budget, based on $1000 per month in sales:

Weekly income: $250

We pay ourselves, first: $25 a week, or 10% of sales, whichever is greater (This is our weekly wage, our ‘mad money’ for the week.)

We deduct for beer and cigarettes: $150 a week ( Our personal expenses. You probably have a much more sensible use.)

Weekly Balance: $75 (To be applied to specific business expenses and growth.)

Total monthly business expenses: $220

Final balance, to be used to grow our business: $80 per month

As you can see, our budget covers everything. We have a little ‘walkin’ around’ money to jingle in our pockets and we cover our personal expenses – in our case it’s beer and cigarettes but you might be using your income to cover rent or a car payment or finance a vacation or as a full-time income.

We also always have money to pay our web hosting fee and other related, definite and predictable business expenses, as well as a little left over at the end of the month to spend on things like advertising or website upgrades. You might use this extra to stock up when you find a sale on business cards or envelopes or ink, or just keep it as a cushion until you need it for a large business expense, like a new printer or to acquire more stock.