Although Val and I have seen our combined retirement assets increase many-fold since our very modest beginnings, when newly married, and though we are old enough to supposedly take a mature approach to things, discussion of budgets and other money matters can still raise the tension level in our house.
Recently one such talk began with blood pressure at least slightly above normal but ended with laughter, once we had discovered a new version of a tried and true principle, one we have come to appreciate, as in the title, for it's homespun reality: "pay MOM first," or, in its longer variation, "take care of MOM and she'll take care of you."
For what we have discovered, rediscovered, and then reaffirmed again and again over the years is that Most of Our Money needs to go for the basics first and, hardly less important, almost co-equal in precedence, for savings and investments second. Only once these maintenance and nest egg priorities have been addressed is it appropriate to consider our many less crucial expenditures, our discretionary spending.
Yet, ironically, our best hope for an eventually ample supply of such "extra" funds comes from giving MOM her due from the start and considering our less essential, though often very strong, personal wants (and at times our quite disparate wishes between us as marriage partners too) as having at most third place in our dedicated uses of still fairly scarce resources.
We include under MOM all the necessities, the mortgage, autos, maintenance items, food (except perhaps occasionally for really special dinners out and/or gifts we may give each other in fine restaurants, etc.), most clothes, all health costs, taxes, and so on, and so forth. Attending to these MOM issues first assures we do not have to do without the basics or pay down large credit card bills or other debts just to get by.
But we also include as a priority assuring that our investment nest egg goes generally up. If we do this, then, by the magic of compounding, MOM will eventually look after not only our future basic essentials but some or even most of those discretionary items as well.