2006_01_askmoney.jpgOne of my New Year's Resolutions is to save more money. The problem is I have a modest salary, and it takes all of my paycheck to pay my rent and live life in New York. Can you help me think of simple ways to save more money, short of resorting to illegal measures?

According to CNN, New York City is indeed the most expensive city in the U.S. And Salary.com states that "Salaries in New York City are 17% higher than the national average, but the cost of living is 94% higher. This makes NYC possibly the hardest place to get your bank account into the black. "

So, our first piece of advice is: Try not to beat yourself up about having less money saved than your counterparts in other cities. It really is harder in NYC. And we hate it when we read articles about saving money that say stupid things like "Just stop buying designer shoes and cappucinos every day!" because we don't do that in the first place. So, assuming you're free of designer shoes and fancy coffee, how can you actually save some pennies? We suggest that if your job offers you a retirement savings plan (like a 401k or a 403b) that you take advantage of it. Your money gets taken out of your paycheck directly, and you can't touch it (with certain exceptions) so there's no temptation to dip into your savings. Even if you only start off with a small amount, it's better than nothing. If you don't have access to a savings plan through your job, at the very least you should set up a savings account that is linked to your checking account and have a certain amount automatically transferred into the savings account each month. Although you might not be frittering your money away on daily lattes, most of us do have one or two areas where we could cut back on spending a little. Again, even if you start with a small amount, it's still a good start. The interest rate on your savings account is likely to be low, though, so once you have enough saved up for a minimum investment, consider investing some of your savings in an IRA or mutual fund.

For more tips on saving, check out the website Choosetosave.org. They have savings tips, savings calculators, holiday savings tips (although we disagree with "knit a blanket or sweater" as a way to save money on a gift for someone - have you seen the price of yarn lately?!), and all sorts of tools to keep you motivated to spend less than you have and save more.

Need advice? Ask Gothamist! E-mail ask(at)gothamist(dot)com.