Do you find that you keep coming up with excuses not save? Here are a few of my personal favourites: "I don't have enough money"; "I need a new pair of shoes"; "I deserve a night out with my friends"; "I never spend money on myself. It's just this once…" But the truth is you know it's irresponsible not to tuck some cash away for a rainy day.

A recent poll unveiled that one in ten of us cannot control our spending habits, and will most likely get into debt using our credit card on a shopping spree. And two in ten say we can’t save because we’re unwilling to skimp on our lifestyle

Clearly, not many of us are taking note of the warning signs.

According to the latest Quarterly Bulletin released by the Reserve Bank, South Africa’s household debt to disposable income was just under 77 percent in the first quarter of this year. “Despite the low interest rates, we’re still not getting rid of our debt, and that’s one of the biggest impediments to saving," says Karin Muller from Sanlam.

Here are four steps to help you become a savvy saver:

1. Get rid of debt:

Remember not all debt is bad. Getting a loan allows you access to ‘big ticket’ items such as property that for most of us would be impossible through savings. But you have to put extra money away to pay off debt, and make sure you do not incur unnecessary debt.

For more on how to get out of debt, check out this 10 step plan.

2. Start small:

Regularly putting something away is the most important thing, especially in a low interest rate environment. While this is often more easily said than done, it is definitely something which should be made a priority.

3. Put money away before spending it:
If you've ever asked yourself: "Where did all my money go?" then this one is for you. Ideally savers should set up their account so that savings are taken out shortly after being paid, and before other debit orders go off. In that way, the money is out of the account, and cannot be spent.

4. What does saving mean to you?
Saving is actually a way of investing in yourself by paying yourself regularly. Having a stash of cash on hand can help take your dreams, and make them a reality or – at least – something achievable.

Make the most of every opportunity you're given, and make your own opportunities, from learning a new language, to saving for retirement. The sooner you invest in something, the sooner you’ll reap the rewards.

Do you have more saving tips to share? Pop them in the box below.