3. Automate savings"We're the only industrialized nation with a negative savings rate; people are spending more than they make," says Dave Jones, president of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies.
To combat sluggish savings, earmark a certain percentage or dollar amount for a savings account. Savings accounts can be either specialized retirement accounts or regular deposit accounts. Start small to get into the routine of saving regularly.
"When you're getting started, it's more important that you get in the habit of saving rather than that you save a lot," says Bucci.
Use windfalls and raises to jump-start savings as well. Got a raise at work?
"Put that money toward savings. You were living just fine without it," says Gail Cunningham, senior director of public relations for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
Bucci recommends funneling half of the newfound income into savings. "The other half you get to spend," he says. "So you're not missing anything, you're not taking anything away from yourself. You're still getting more money then you had before, but now you're saving a little bit more."