i read all the time about how to save money -- just skip your morning coffee, brown bag your lunch, quit smoking -- but, to me this advice is good for a week, maybe two, and then you fall back into your old habits. it's a lot like new year's resolutions or dieting or other things that are bright and shiny when they are new, but get old fast.
the only real way to save money is to make it a priority in life. ha! that's definitely one of those things that is easier said than done. look, i bring my lunch to work, i drive a used car, i eat out only once a week, but it took a long time for me to realize and prioritize these things in my life. what it really took was for me to understand that the pleasure or convenience of these things was not really worth the money because the cheaper alternatives were not sacrifices: my lunches are just as good as the food i could get around my office, my car is nice, but not too nice, and my one meal out is usually a great one.
there's more to saving than just saying it, of course. i have several accounts where money is taken out of my check automatically. i also use electronic transfers to move money out of my primary checking account. it makes it easier to avoid spending if the money is already spoken for, but i do leave a good amount in my primary checking account, but i don't consider all of this money spending money. it's just way too hard for me to budget exactly what i am going to spend from month to month. that means some of my savings spills over into my spending accounts. how do i resist the temptation to go and spend all of it? honestly, i just do. there's no magic to it, unfortunately, but at some level learning how to do that is probably a good exercise. again, it's like dieting. back when i had a weight problem, i tried a lot of things -- low carb diets, counting calories, packaged meals -- but what eventually happened on all of them is that i would start craving something and crack and never get back on track. what worked for me was finally learning about nutrition and exercise and applying those concepts to my life. instead of depriving myself, i would allow myself a taste of this or that. i think the same concepts can be applied to your financial life.
if you feel like you're depriving yourself, it's never going to work, so relax a bit and learn about financial matters. don't corner yourself into the low-carb equivalent of a financial diet. learn how to spend and save your money and you'll be better off for it.