This is pretty common financial advice, but most people ignore it. The typical approach to managing money involves paying bills, buying the stuff that you want, and then saving whatever happens to be left over. The problem is, with this approach there is almost never anything left to save.

In order to be effective at saving and building your nest egg, you need to make it a priority. Most of us are good at finding excuses, and there’s always a reason why saving isn’t convenient. But if you pay yourself first and then create a budget around the amount that you want to save or invest, you’ll find that it’s possible to make progress even when things seem tight.

When I was in my mid 20’s I was living on my own and getting by, but I didn’t have a lot left over after paying bills and necessities. I had no savings and did not start an IRA as I should have. This put me way behind. I was living in New York City, spending an incredible amount of money on meals and drinks with friends, even though I did not have that money to spend.

If I had paid myself first, in terms of contributing to an IRA and built my budget around what was left, I would have been able to make it work. Even if I had saved $100 a month, that would have been $1200 a year that would have compounded for the past two decades – tens of thousands in earnings by now.

Make saving your first priority, not your last. Put money away early and do not touch it – the simple secret to accumulating wealth.