Spend less than you make and you'll always be rich. This is true. Unfortunately it's also true that expenses rise to income. This because the "I deserve" factor kicks in. Once there is more money around, there is a tendency to look at purchases and say, "I work hard, I deserve this." I always made it a point to save any extra money I had lying around. When I was teaching and making money, I routinely put 5K in my Roth IRA every year. I lived off the rest but I made sure I saved as much as possible. Someday I will have enough to really treat myself to something better than a designer handbag or lunch with the girls. I'll buy myself another house. I made sure I spent less than I made because I kept an eye on my biggest expense: housing. Housing is the biggest expense in any budget. Once that is taken care of, it's a lot easier to save money. That's why I didn't want to buy a big expensive house. I wanted to be sure I bought something I could afford.
Save your pay raises. I had a target for yearly earnings. Once I reached my targeted amount any overflow would go directly into savings. I kept a special hard to access bank account exclusively for this purpose. I didn't have it linked to an ATM or online banking, so I wouldn't be tempted to spend. I did the same thing with my tax return money. In fact this year we were able to to jump start our savings plan with our tax return. All our outstanding bills were paid off so we weren't using the tax return to catch up. If you get a tax return always put it into savings, never use it for bill repayment if you could help it. Get into the habit of being debt free when tax time rolls around.