Fargo — Many federal workers were feeling the pinch of a month without paychecks.

It's a reminder of the importance of having a little money saved up.

Believe it or not, a third of Americans don't have a single dollar in a savings account, according to data from GoBankingRates. Nearly 58 percent have less than a thousand dollars saved, and according to Carrie Johnson, a personal and family finance specialist for NDSU Extension, some are hardly prepared for anything.

"About 40 percent of Americans couldn't cover an unexpected $400 expense without borrowing money," said Johnson. "It really comes down to personal finance. We always think something else takes precedence over our savings."

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She says it's important to not overwhelm yourself.

"It is possible, you just need to start small. Set small goals you can keep working toward."

She suggests finding what your financial weakness is and tightening that budget, "Whether you're an impulse shopper or you eat out too much."

Tom Scheid of Bell Bank says knowing what you want will keep you accountable.

"The biggest and first step for people to be successful is to set a goal or make a plan," said the Vice President/Branch Manager.

He says one trick to take the sting of setting money aside is to set up automatic transfers when you get paid.

"When you have money come in, you can have it automatically go over so you don't feel it as much. It doesn't feel like a burden to have money go out," said Scheid.

These tips are helpful, but it's important to remember there are no shortcuts to saving. Both experts agree, you need to keep at it to succeed.

NDSU Extension has more financial information and advice available at www.ag.ndsu.edu/money.