Step One: Determine how much savings, as a percentage of income, you intend to put away.
Step Two: Determine the optimal sequence of savings.
Step Three: Automate your plan.
Just as with your employer's pre-tax retirement plan savings, which come out of your paycheck before you even see them, you should make your other savings automatic as well.
Most employers can set up auto-payments to multiple bank accounts. Set up one “master savings” account, and have your employer direct a fixed percentage of your compensation to it. From this account, make automatic transfers to pay down loans, build cash in a reserve account, fund 529 college savings accounts, or buy investments.
Your objective is to shift enough income from your paycheck to fund all of your savings priorities, before any money ever gets to any account from which you spend. Don't underestimate the power in the psychology of doing so.
When you have all of the elements of your automatic savings plan in place, you can then decide how to spend your remaining after-tax cash flow with a clear conscience and no misgivings.
Do you save beyond your employer's plan?