We all know that we ought to be paying ourselves first — by building a healthy emergency fund, investing in our retirement accounts, and saving for important future purchases.

However, it can feel like paying ourselves first will end up shortchanging our other financial obligations. How can you pay yourself first when you barely have enough money to make it to the end of each month?

Luckily, saving is just like Lao Tzu’s journey of a thousand miles. They both start with a single (and, in this case, easy) step.

Here are five ways you can painlessly start paying yourself first:
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Recently when I treated my mom out for lunch, she mentioned how she treats money a little differently than I do. She said that she is generous to other people but frugal towards herself, while I’m frugal towards those around me and myself.

Now, wait for a second here. Why would you say anything like that to a person WHILE he’s treating you to lunch? At a slightly fancy Chinese dim yum place no less? Which part of I’m buying you lunch is not generous?

I’m just joking about the question though because I actually know where this comment came from. You see, my mom wanted me to buy my sister’s family dinner just a couple of days before, and I got slightly ticked off because I suggested a place we went to for my sister’s birthday a few years back, and my mom just didn’t like the idea. She didn’t say it outright, but I have a feeling that she thought it wasn’t fancy enough. Normally, she wouldn’t have any issue with the price of meals, but there was a family emergency in the Ning household and she helped me out a great deal. She felt like I should offer to buy everyone dinner as a gesture of gratitude.

Here’s the thing though. The restaurant I suggested was a place my sister likes to go to because she was the one who picked that place a few years ago. It wasn’t five star fine dining quality, but it was fancy enough, again, because my sister picked that place for dinner on her birthday.

After a bit of back and forth, I suggested for my sister to pick the restaurant after I tell her I wanted to buy dinner. And guess what? My lucky stars all aligned when she chose that exact restaurant on her own. She defused the situation quite a bit and there was a generally happy ending.

But let’s not explore this question further, as it will steer the post slightly off topic and more importantly, probably get me in more trouble (Hi mom! I know you are reading this!).
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For kids, money really does grow on trees. If you’re familiar with basic psychology, you’ve read about a child’s magical thinking stage, their advances to concrete operational thinking, and their propensity for egocentrism until age seven or eight. If you want to learn more about how children think differently than adults, you may want to read up on Jean Piaget’s research about how a child develops. His contributions to developmental psychology are used by advertisers and marketers, pediatricians, psychologists, teachers, and even parents. Here are a few basics that will help you effectively teach your child about responsible spending.
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Looking at your finances and figuring out how to manage multiple financial priorities can feel like you’re running in circles. How can you pay off debt and save for retirement? How can you pay for your child’s education and invest in your own future?

It’s tough to manage all your short, medium, and long-term financial goals at once. On one hand, focusing on one thing can lead to burnout and also leave you financially vulnerable. On the other hand, spreading your finances too thin to focus on all your goals isn’t very effective either.

If you’re trying to find balance in your financial life, here are some tips to manage multiple financial priorities without letting your big goals suffer.
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Last we checked, money still hasn’t started growing on trees yet. Not in our yard, anyway. So we decided to experiment and see if we could find some new ways to save the same old money.

Our experiments were a success. We’ve saved on nearly every one of them, and I’m thrilled to show you how we did it.

Being able to save money isn’t some exclusive privilege only reserved for financial bloggers. Here’s how one of our readers, Vincent, saved recently. They are easy to replicate, so everyone can do this. Check out what he’s done.
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Farmers know how to get the most out of every dollar spent, as nothing goes to waste when you live on a farm — they even recycle manure! For many farm families, living frugally is a way of life passed down from generation to generation. Frugality is an intentional part of raising farm kids, so what can we learn from them?

Here are five lessons on frugality for kids from the farm.

Money Lessons for Kids from the Farm

1. Recycling is essential.

Food scraps get fed to cats, dogs, cows, and other livestock instead of being put in the trash or down a garbage disposal. Old tractor tires are used to grow potatoes or serve as swings and flower beds. When a building needs repairs, materials are often found already on the farm. Old roofing isn’t discarded. Nails are pulled from old boards for re-use, and roofing that’s no longer fit for the farmhouse is recycled for the chicken coop or woodshed.

Bailer twine is saved for tying up plants, securing loose items, and even holding up your britches in a pinch. Look under the kitchen sink, and you’re likely to find a ball of used tin foil, carefully washed and stored for re-use.

How often do we recycle in our modern society? And recycling (or repurposing in some cases) doesn’t even have to be about saving money. Sometimes, it just makes things better. Did you know that Cantonese restaurants use ingredients left over from different dishes to make other ones? Their soup base is often a mix of different scraps taken from different orders. They take a bit of crab meat here, a spoonful of chicken oil there, and voila, a base that can create a brand new dish. That’s one of the reasons why Cantonese restaurants are better in Asia. They just have a ton more customers to create complex dishes from all those orders.

When was the last time you thought about reusing what you already have?
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