Dealing with money has always been a precarious issue. Some people will obsess over it, making sure they fulfill their financial obligations, while others will disregard it until it is too big to ignore. And when asked, almost everyone will say they wouldn't mind more money. One of the best ways get more money, granted it's done slowly, is to set aside money every week.

When you get your paycheck, it already has had several things taken out of it: state taxes, federal taxes, social security, possibly a health insurance premium. This is done to make sure that all interested parties get their money (although it's highly flawed…but that's another topic) and that you aren't able to spend it before they can get to it. And so you make do with what is left over. You can use this same principle to build up extra money; whether for an emergency fund, paying large credit card bills, or down payment on a car or house.

So where do you put this "extra money" that you take from your paycheck. There are many great options: investing in stocks or mutual funds, purchasing certificates of deposit (CDs), savings account, money market accounts; the list is huge. The problem is that many of the options have a lot of risk involved and require a large amount of investigation and research before investing. The best option out of all of these, at least for the short term (i.e. less than 9 months), is to put it in an online savings account. Online savings accounts are great because they pay better rates (frequently 5-7 times better) than traditional savings accounts, the transfers can be scheduled automatically (just set it and forget it), and the money is available quickly but has a small waiting period. The last point is probably the most important because you want to have your money available in case you need to move it (whether due to an emergency or an investment opportunity) but the waiting period prevents you from tapping into frivolously.

There are several different companies that offer online savings accounts. I personally prefer ING DIRECT for several reasons. The first is that they offer good rates. They're not always the highest out there but oftentimes the bank that does pay the best rate will fluctuate every couple of months and it is difficult to transfer from one bank to another that often. ING DIRECT's rate is always in the top ten rates so I don't have to worry about missing out on that much. Another reason I like them is because they allow you to open many "mini-accounts" that separate balances. This is great for me because I have several financial goals (like fixing my broken shower and purchasing solar panels) and it's really convenient to separate those balances. The last reason I like them is because they're user-interface is super easy; once you have your account you can set-up recurring transfers very easily as well as move money in and out of accounts easily.

Once you have your account set up, go to the section for transferring money and look for a way to set up a recurring transfer. Set up this transfer to occur the Monday after your paycheck comes in, this way you allow for any delays that your company and/or regular bank might have. Make sure to choose amount that will test your comfort level. You don't want go into debt to do this (kind of defeats the purpose) but your savings will grow exponentially faster if you have a large amount deposited each time.
Finally, you just have to ignore this account until you reach whatever financial goal you may have. It's very rewarding when you've forgotten about this account and check it 8 months later to discover you are close to a thousand dollars richer than you thought you were.