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Make (and Stick to) a Budget

It might be hard at first, but sticking to a budget can help you save a lot of money over time.

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Online banking makes it easier to figure out how much you're making, how much you're spending and how much you can save or use to pay off your debt. Don't think about what you should be doing, just focus on being honest about your daily life: the money you make and the money you spend.

Setting sky-high savings goals can sometimes work in the short term, but you're not just saving up for a new TV: You're trying to create an entirely new habit and make it a part of your life. It has to be something you can do every time, not just when you're feeling optimistic.

Any expert will say that one of the most important habits to learn is paying yourself first. Get that money out of checking immediately, using your bank's automatic transfer system if possible. When you think of saving as something you do with the money left over, you don't save: There's never going to be any money left over!

However you do it, the point is to teach yourself that once you've started saving, that money is no longer yours to spend. Saving is just something you do, every paycheck, regardless of what else is going on.

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