Simple concept: pay yourself first.
Don’t dismiss it. Don’t say it’s impossible. Because it is possible. Of course, you may have to cut some expenses but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible.
If you are truly interested in being financially independent and at peace then you will pay yourself first. You will decide how much of each paycheck (or other source of income) you want to save for the future (your retirement or any other goal)–it can be a certain percentage of your income or a set amount–and before you do anything else with all the money you just received, you put YOUR money into a savings account.
Then with the rest of the money you pay bills and live on it. If you can’t live and pay bills with the rest of it then you need to cut expenses, not necessarily savings.
Of course, when you are ‘paying yourself first’ you need to be realistic. Don’t tell yourself you can save 80% of your income and live on 20%. Unless you really can, of course! Sit down and figure out what is realistic and yet will still stretch you a little and force you to cut down some frivolous spending.
When you’ve decided on the amount you want to save, do it. =) Save it. Before spending any of it. You can set this up to be an automatic deduction from your paycheck or even automatic from your checking account to a savings account on payday. But however you do it, the key is to actually do it.
Of course, I’m not perfect and am still figuring out exactly how to make it all work. But once you start to play around with it, it actually becomes quite enjoyable and fun to see your savings accounts go up (and therefore, hopefully, your net worth!)