Pay Yourself First – The Smart Way to Save

By: Elaine Genevro, Senior Vice President and Regional Executive, Union Bank, N.A.

If you’re like most people, when you get your paycheck you make a habit of paying your bills. But financially savvy consumers have learned that the first bill that they should pay is to themselves.  By “paying yourself first” you set aside money from your paycheck into a savings account before you begin paying monthly living expenses and making discretionary purchases.

Why Should I Pay Myself First?

Financial advisors agree that saving should be a part of every budget; unfortunately many of us aren’t prepared for financial emergencies or long-term goals such as retirement.  When you get into the habit of paying yourself first, you are putting your future financial security at the top of your priority list, and are less likely to spend your hard-earned money on items that are less important.  Paying yourself first can be a very effective way of ensuring that you continue to make your budgeted contributions regularly.

How to Save

Develop a budget that includes a savings plan, along with all your other monthly expenses.  Record all sources of income as well as all of your bills and expenses to determine how much you can put aside each month.  Look closely at your spending habits and determine where you can cut back to save more. Eliminate a monthly bill if you can, and deposit the money that you would have spent on that bill into your savings account.

Transfer money automatically from your paycheck into a savings or investment account. With less money available in your checking account, you'll be more mindful of what you are spending. Try to gradually increase your automatic savings rate over time.

Another easy way to start paying yourself first is if you receive a raise. By simply depositing your increase in pay into a savings account each month, you can save money while not feeling the pinch. And be sure to take full advantage if your employer offers a matching contribution to your 401(k) account.

Where to Keep Your Savings
There are many options available for you to consider when looking for a safe place to store and grow your savings, so talk to a trusted financial advisor to weigh your options.  A high interest savings account at a bank may allow you to set up automatic transfers into the account, either directly from your paycheck or from your regular bank account. Treat these transfers like you’d treat any other financial obligation. This should be your first and most important bill every month.

The foregoing article is intended to provide general information about saving and is not considered financial or tax advice from Union Bank.  Please consult your financial or tax advisor.


About UnionBanCal Corporation & Union Bank, N.A.

Elaine Genevro is a senior vice president and regional executive for Union Bank, N.A., a full-service commercial bank providing an array of financial services to individuals, small businesses, middle-market companies, and major corporations. The bank operated 402 branches in California, Washington, Oregon, Texas, Illinois, and New York as well as two international offices, on June 30, 2012. UnionBanCal Corporation is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd., which is a subsidiary of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. Union Bank is a proud member of the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG, NYSE:MTU),one of the world’s largest financial organizations. Visit for more information.

Additional articles from America Saves:



Take the Pledge

I pledge to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth over time. I will encourage my family and friends to do the same

Take the America Saves Pledge

Tip of the Day

  • Written by Administrator2 | March 19, 2014

    Having emergency savings may be the most important way to stay afloat financially

Saver Stories View all »

Taking Back Control Over Finances

Written by Virginia Saves | August 5, 2015

After becoming a Virginia Saver and getting help from BankOn classes and coaching, Nadine Bialo took back control over her financial affairs.


Inspired to Build Savings By Starting Small

Written by Great Lakes Michigan Saves | April 19, 2016

With little-to-no money in the bank and living on a limited income with her adult daughter, Sharon wasn’t sure if building up savings for her future was even possible. “At my age, to put debts behind me would be a relief,” she said, but she wasn’t quite sure how to even get started with a savings plan. That all changed when Sharon attended the Great Lakes Michigan Saves Pay Yourself First Saver’s Summit during America Saves Week.


Challenging Herself to Save

Written by Sara Cooper | April 15, 2014

It all started when Marchale Burton overheard Alabama cooperative extension colleague Isaac Chappelle, coordinator of Alabama Saves, explaining how saving just a little bit – even change – is all it takes to become a saver. “I thought about that,” Burton said, “and wanted to see if it would work.” So, she challenged herself to see how much change she could save.


Receive Updates

Sign up for Texts

Written by Tammy G. Bruzon | July 15, 2014

Sign Up

Sign up for Emails

Written by Super User | September 16, 2013

Get Emails

Take the Pledge

Written by Super User | September 16, 2013

Start Saving