Published: Jan 03, 2011 11:37 PM EST
Updated: Jan 03, 2011 8:00 PM EST

LEE COUNTY, Fla. - From the housing market to jobs, it's been a rough few years in Southwest Florida.

So it should be no surprise that many are looking for ways to save more and spend less in 2011.

In fact, all across the country, an estimated 75 percent of those who made New Year's resolutions say their number one goal is improving their finances.

CBS's MoneyWatch offers several simple tips to help you hold true to your financial resolutions this year.

First, set a short term goal with a reward at the end.  It can be small, or big - like putting $1,000 away for an upcoming vacation.

"The trick of saving is recognizing that when you save, you're going to get something better in the future," says financial expert Brad Barber, a professor at the University of California in Davis. "It's that mechanism that needs to be engrained in your brain and gradually reinforced with longer and longer-term goals."

Tackling those longer-term goals, like saving for retirement, doesn't mean giving up your daily latte.  In fact, the second tip is to make saving feel painless.  Consider having a small part of your paycheck automatically directed into savings.  It will feel like less of a loss.

"The next time you have a raise, go into your employer and say I want to put half of that raise into my 401(k)," Barber says. "You'll never even know that you've done it because the paycheck is still going to go up."

Another way to make saving easy is to make spending harder.  Experts suggest separating your savings and ATM accounts so that the savings account isn't touched.

And ditch the plastic for cold hard cash.  Paying with cash makes impulse purchases less likely, meaning you'll keep more money in your wallet.