What's the easiest way to start saving? Stop spending. But even if you pledge to cut back on expenses, the temptation to buy is always there. Whether you love shopping for clothes, spending money on tech gadgets or music, or just like mindless window shopping -- that turns into buying lots of crap at Target -- it's hard to cut out anything that reminds you of your favorite past time. But if you're a lowly college student on a work-study budget (if that), you can't blow your paycheck on cute new shoes instead of using it to buy a book for class or to refill your dining hall card.
Depending on what your spending addiction is, you're going to have to customize your cold turkey approach. Start by eliminating the enablers. That could mean your shopping buddies (or foodie friends if you love spending money on eating out and gourmet ingredients, or travel companions if you have a weakness for last-minute ticket deals), your e-mail sale updates, favorite blogs, or even the extra cash you have in your piggy bank. Lock your savings away in an account that's painful to drain -- or that even penalizes you if you dip too low. If you want cash nearby in case of an actual emergency, ask a trustworthy roommate to keep the key away from you. You don't have to tell them where the money is if you're worried about it getting stolen.
Unsubscribe to e-mail updates from designers, stores, customer rewards programs, flash sales sites and stores that tempt you each day -- or even every few hours -- to buy something. You should only buy something when you've discovered that you really need it, like your jeans have one too many holes or your sunglasses are actually broken. Don't sit around for other people to put ideas into your head about what they think you should want.
And if your friends are a real problem, mix up your social circle and join some other activities to distance yourself from them. They might be in a different financial position as you and can afford to spend more, or their spending habits might be just as damaging as your own. Getting interested in other activities like volunteering, outdoor recreation or social clubs will also help you feel more fulfilled without having to buy something.