If you have extra cash -- and even if you don't -- it can be easy to spend money. Saving, on the other hand, isn't so sexy. You must, however, commit to saving money, through cutting expenses and socking dough away, if you wish to be prepared for an emergency, illness or live the high life in retirement.
Cut unneeded expenses. Bankrate.com suggests scrutinizing items like gym memberships, phone bills and cable TV subscriptions. Ditch the monthly gym membership and start taking runs, bike rides or create a home gym. The resultant savings could number in the hundreds, if not over $1,000. Bankrate.com reports that by bundling services -- for example getting cable TV, telephone and Internet from the same provider -- you can save hundreds of dollars every year.
Scale back. Penny-pinchers incessantly cite the Latte effect. They say if you don't buy a Latte every morning, but save the four bucks, you'll be a millionaire by the time you're 14... But look past the Latte. Ditching the attendant morning croissant or reducing the number of times you eat out can save serious change.
Pay off loans and credit card bills, but don't act like you didn't. As Janet Bodnar recommends in Kiplinger, continue making the monthly payment on bills you no longer have. Divert the money to a savings or investment account. This should be relatively pain-free if you've already given that money to somebody else for years.
Pay yourself first. This advice is cited almost as much as the Latte effect, but much more enticing. As the Smart Money website advises, treat savings like an expense so that it becomes a priority. The more you save, the better motivated you'll be to stay the course.
Make it automatic. Open an online savings account or, better yet, an investment account or IRA, and link it to your checking or savings account. Set a schedule for your financial institution to automatically transfer funds from your bank account to your savings or investment account.
As a writer since 2002, Rocco Pendola has published numerous academic and popular articles in addition to working as a freelance grant writer and researcher. His work has appeared on SFGate and Planetizen and in the journals "Environment & Behavior" and "Health and Place." Pendola has a Bachelor of Arts in urban studies from San Francisco State University.