Now, more than ever, it is critical to have savings. There is no magic to intelligent personal saving. It's part common sense and part paying attention to the world around you.

At a minimum, you should have 6 months living expenses saved in a liquid account. You need to be able to get at your funds quickly and easily without having to sell stock or pay penalties for early withdrawals on various savings vehicles.

Saving money is key to financial security but in the case of a starved recession weary world where should you start? One important thing to keep in mind is to not make grandiose deprivation plans if you can help it. The average person doesn’t need to stop doing everything they enjoy at once and go cold turkey. You will feel like you are on a hugely restrictive diet and will more than likely cheat as soon as an opportunity presents itself. Soon you will stumble and you will gain the “debt weight” back. Consider gradually cutting small items from your daily spending patterns. Once you are comfortable with that process and begin to see real results, you will beginto get excited about paying more attention to your spending and saving habits.

Here are 5 steps to make it easy for you.

The first step is to create some type of personal spending plan. There are many website that can assist you with setting up a budget. I found a nice budget worksheet at that is easy to use and will help you instantly see where you can change some of your spending habits in order to move more money into your savings account. What I like about this one is it has columns set up for you to see the difference between your budget amount and the actual amount you spent.
The second step is to begin to live within your budget without living in deprivation. Take a good look at your expenditures and decide what superfluous items you can do without or do with less of. For example one of my favorite targets is ditching the mocha latte. Does your diet demand that you consume multiple (expensive) coffee's or can you survive on regular coffee? By avoiding your favorite coffee shop and drinking the coffee that your office provides, or that you bring with you from home, you can potentially save $5 to $10 daily. At the minimum savings of $5 each day times 5 days a week, you are potentially not spending $100 a month. I know $100 a month doesn't sound like much, but consider if you had been doing this diligently for 20 years at 5%? Nice little nest egg. Again, this is not magic...just plain common sense. And you have to start somewhere!
The third step you can take to begin to move money into your savings account is to bring your own lunch to work and to cook your own meals at home. Eating out can not only be costly if you do it regularly, but it can also contribute to weight gain. If you are in a high cost area such as NYC you can save $10 per day easily by bringing your lunch. Bring leftovers or a sandwich daily along with some fruit or fresh vegetable such as carrots, which are easy to carry. I started doing this a couple of years ago and not only saved a bundle of cash but some inches on the waistline. Did I mention my stomach doesn’t seem to get upset after lunch because of marginal food?
Unless you absolutely have to carry a credit or debit card with you, consider leaving them in a drawer at home and carry only the cash that you have budgeted for that week. You will learn fairly quickly what you can afford if you have to actually look at the cash in your wallet and make decisions on how you will spend it that week. If you can't quite give up your ATM card, try to limit your trips to the ATM machine. I’ve been guilty of “ATM tripping” and now I only go once per week unless it’s an emergency or I have to take a business trip. The result is a lot less cash leaves my pocket. By the way, an emergency isn’t seeing something on sale and you go to the ATM to get the cash. An emergency is the pipe burst in the wall and you have to pay the plumber.
Pay off your credit cards each month. If you use a charge card such as American Express you should immediately the same day or once weekly send an electronic check for what has been spent. It keeps you in a “if I don’t have the cash I can’t buy it” mindset. The key is to know your budget and be sure you have the spare cash. If you can't afford it, the simple answer is not to buy it!

There you go! Five easy steps to begin flexing your savings muscles. So start saving today. No excuses!

Author's Bio: 

Theodore Henderson is a professional speaker and business person. However, he is not a speaker who uses “canned” presentations, but one who speaks from personal experience, business know-how, and from his heart on issues that resonate with a wide audience. He coaches using universal themes of financial education, faith, perseverance and self development.

Despite 20 plus years in sales and sales management in Fortune 500 companies, when it comes to public and professional speaking, he proudly considers himself first and foremost a Communicator and Entrepreneur.

He is a winner of Toastmaster International Speech Competitions and currently holds advanced Toastmasters certifications in speaking and leadership. He also conducts training and workshops in Business Planning and Personal Financial issues.

Theodore is an MBA graduate with concentrations in Finance and Information Systems and has consistently applied that knowledge throughout his career in technology and information systems. In addition to being certified as an instructor with the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship . He is the team leader for the Riverside Church Youth Entrepreneurial Development Program (RYED) in New York.