The mathematical formula to eradicate personal debt and start saving is a simple one: generate more income and/or reduce spending. The former may not be possible in the current environment, but the latter is limited only by one's imagination. Furthermore, learning to live on less offers an opportunity to embrace a lifestyle that relies less on materialism and more on ingenuity.
Think like a minimalist. How much do you really need to get by? Begin by questioning all the bells and whistles that have, until recently, defined the essence of the middle class. Must you assume a $300K mortgage to obtain "shelter"? Does food really have to include a weekly visit to the local sushi bar? Must clothing have a designer touch to be utilitarian? Just who are you trying to impress, and why?
Learn to think outside of the box, and make a game of it. Frequent frugal living message boards for tips and ideas from others determined to live below their means. Explore those ideas that you can incorporate into your lifestyle, and be encouraged by your progress. Once you get the ball rolling, you will easily discern between a "need" and a "want." A sense of empowerment will eclipse any sense of deprivation. And, like a Boy Scout learning to build his first campfire, you will gain confidence in your ability to get through emergencies.
Be wary of the media. Commercials, advertisements, catalogs and even sitcoms are designed to bring forth the urge to consume and purchase products that we simply do not need. Make a game of this as well. Identify how the product is being pitched, and how you are being manipulated.
Obviously, if you are facing insurmountable debt, more aggressive action is needed. You may need to contact a credit counselor or work with a debt consolidation service to get some financial relief. But for many, tightening the belt will stop the hemorrhaging and reverse the tide. Challenge yourself every day to find a simple way to cut back. It might be as simple as borrowing books, magazines and movies from your local library or as radical as making your own laundry detergent. But the bottom line is that for every dollar you don't spend, a dollar can be applied towards paying down your debt and building up your savings.