How Do You Force Yourself To Save Money?

It's easy to put money into a savings account (oh so conveniently linked to a checking account) with the hopes of keeping it there. But those must-have shoes and last-minute concert tickets are constantly tempting us to dip into our savings now and again. And honestly, I've been dipping on a regular basis.

Recently, I decided I wanted to go on a vacation this winter to somewhere tropical (think airfare + hotel = $$) and knew I should probably start socking money away now. But then I got to thinking that if I could will myself to save for a trip, then I could start saving for an emergency fund, too. Financial gurus suggest keeping an amount equal to three month's pay on hand for the unexpected. (Needless to say, I'm not even close.)

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When I got paid last Friday, I immediately set up savings goals on smartypig.com. I set up two: one for my upcoming vacay and one for long-term savings. I told them when I wanted to meet my goal and they calculated how much I would have to contribute each month (accounting for interest) to get there. So now, each month on a date I choose, the money will be automatically funneled from my checking account into my SmartyPig accounts. And it's got a very competitive interest rate of 3.9% (but keep in mind, this rate can change without notice). This set-up is perfect for me right now. I can save for specific goals and actually leave the money untouched and out of sight until I really need it.

How do you save money for long-term goals?

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