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Why do so many of us have a tough time saving money? There are a couple of very obvious -- and popular -- responses: unequal wealth distribution, stagnant wages, and student-aid debt that's shackling an entire generation of college graduates.

Without taking anything away from those legitimate causes, we often ignore the thing we have the most control over: our own spending. It feels good to blame others. It is psychologically depleting to admit our own mistakes. So we over-emphasize the things out of our control, and ignore those within it.

That's a shame, because the very act of owning mistakes can lead to powerful changes down the road. That's why I want to highlight the one trick that's helped my family save the most money over time: setting aside one month per year where we pay for (almost) everything in cash -- and tracking those expenses.

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