It all started when we got our tax refund last year and it was over $8,000! Now, that was a nice payday, but I would have probably much preferred to have access to that through the previous year when I was struggling to make ends meet.
When I got my current job, I decided to finagle my W-4 to have Uncle Sam take as little as possible. So, on my first paycheck, I had the maximum amount of taxes withheld, and then changed it to the minimum for my 2nd check. This gave me an idea of how much I would need for taxes in the worst case.
So, knowing myself, and knowing that I cannot be trusted to actually keep track of how much I should save, I set up a direct deposit to my ING Orange Savings account. This way, the money goes away the same as if I was giving it to the Feds, but I get the ING interest rate (currently 3%) on it. Plus, God forbid, I need it, I have access to it. Ideally, I will still get a refund next year, but it will be from me and with interest.
If you want an ING direct account and $25 free dollars for signing up, email me and I can send you a link to get it.