4. Leave the credit cards at home. Spending surveys have found that people spend between 12 percent and 50 percent more when using a credit card versus cash. To see how much money you'll save by ditching the cards, Ruby Payne, an educator, researcher and author of "A Framework for Understanding Poverty," among other titles, recommends leaving your credit card at home. Then every time you don't make a purchase that you normally would have used a credit card for, note the amount. At the end of the month, tally your "potential" purchases to see how much you've saved; then pat yourself on the back for your virtuousness and shift that money to emergency savings.
5. Plan ahead, budget for fun. All work and no play is no way for anyone to live, so be realistic when planning your spending. To make your savings strategy work, you'll need to budget for fun. This will help keep you from going overboard when the fun-itch strikes.
Setting aside 10 percent of your discretionary income for fun is Epperson's rule. That way you know how much money you have to play with. Plan ahead to stretch your dollars because, she warns, "When the money's not there, you don't have the fun."
6. Make things interest-ing. Draw down no-interest checking accounts and move the money into high-interest savings. If you can't figure out where to cut back your expenses, this is a good place to look for extra money, says Epperson. "Most Americans keep too much money in checking accounts that earn zero percent interest. That money's just wasting time."
7. Learn to save short-term splurges One trick that Bedda D'Angelo, a Certified Financial Planner out of Raleigh, N.C., recommends, is deferring the latte splurge until you've saved up enough for a massage. This way you're retraining yourself away from giving into immediate gratification and into saving for your real desires. "It's still pleasure," she says, "but now you're saving for larger things."
8. Reward yourself Allow yourself little extra perks for reaching savings goals. Taking a vacation without plastic is one reward-worthy goal, D'Angelo suggests. "Pretty soon you're going to say 'I really like it. I feel so secure with this buffer. I really like having money in the bank,'" she says.
Rewards sweeten the medicine, retraining you to take the smart but tough steps that will ensure your financial future. And the cost of the perks is outweighed by new money-saving habits.