- Automate it. This is especially easy if you can get your employer on board. If you have a retirement plan at work, raise your contribution to it by 1% every now and then. If you need to build up savings elsewhere (like an online savings account or investment account) see if they will pay part of your paycheck directly to that account so that you don't have to be involved in the process at all! Otherwise, just set up a regular transfer from your checking to your savings account.
- Take a holiday! No, don't book plane tickets just yet, take a spending holiday. Try one day a week, or one weekend a month, where you don't spend any money at all. This takes a bit of planning if you don't always keep your fridge stocked with food, but shouldn't be hard to do. Remember to pack some leftovers for lunch and have an idea for cooking dinner and your needs are taken care of. If you are tempted to go shopping or are invited out, you only have to put it one pause for a day. If you can control a spending impulse for a day, you can make better decisions about spending in other situations too!
- Get your priorities straight. Think deeply about what you want your money to do for you and what you value enough to spend money on. It is not healthy to think of a particular spending habit as a "vice" or a "splurge" if eating out or buying vintage clothes is something you value enough to spend on, budget for it and understand that prioritizing that will mean sacrifice in other areas. When confronted with something to spend money on, ask yourself how much you really value it.
- Comparison shop - for everything. Comparison shopping is not just looking for a cheaper cereal in the grocery store or looking at two websites for prices on a gadget. Comparison shopping can extend to anything you spend money on. Consider real alternatives to expensive outings or meals. If you want to try out a new restaurant, instead of spending on a full meal for yourself, gather a few friends and make it clear you want to sample the menu and keep the price low. If you are planning a date night, look at the cost of the activities you have planned and come up with a cheaper alternative to one of them.
- Be realistic. Don't plan on a drastic cut in your spending if you don't actually think you can do it. Keep yourself appraised of your spending on a regular (I recommend weekly) basis and if something is not working out, you may need to change things up.
Saving money requires saying NO to a lot of spending. This can be hard if we want to keep up with our friends or maintain a certain lifestyle. Ultimately you will need to figure out what you value, and understand the true value of future financial success that comes with good habits now.