We’ve all heard how important it is to have money set aside, that we should reduce expenses and invest for the long term but man – have these people seen how much things cost? Do they understand student loan debt, credit card debt and car loans? It’s all well and good for Dave Ramsey to say we should pay cash for a home but that seems like a catch-22 where the longer I rent and save, the more prices are going up! What can I do?

First up, get a good handle on where the heck your money is going. When saving money seems hopeless, buying an extra pair of shoes or eating lunch out doesn’t seem like a big deal: that $10 or $100 wasn’t going to make a dent. Do yourself and me a favor: write it down! Spend one month writing down every penny that leaves your hands. Once you’ve done that, you’ll have an idea of what you’re spending every month. Knowledge is Power! Find out where Americans spend their money here.

Now that you know how much you’re spending, commit to saving 0.25% a week. That’s one quarter of one percent of your monthly bills each week – so if you’re spending $4,000 a month, you’d have to save $10 a week. Don’t think that will make a dent? See how Sammy, my fictional friend, saved $13,780 in one year by reducing expenses by $10 each week and automatically transferring that money into a savings account. That does not include any interest or other payback on the money and Sammy could have saved more by paying off credit cards instead of just negotiating a lower interest rate.

There are only two ways to end up with more money at the end of the month: spend less or make more – or both. Sammy will inspire you to spend less. How can you make more? You could get a second job like driving for Uber or Lyfsell some stuff that you’re not using, turn a hobby into a second income or ask for a raise. This will be found money – money you didn’t have before – so save it. Add it to the 0.25% that you’re already putting away.

The key, according to Tylene Henry, is to commit to something realistic and stick to it. If you start off strong and say you’ll save half of your income each month, it won’t be long before you’re either dipping into that savings account or taking off “just this one month.” Make it small, easy and automatic and you will succeed!

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