America Saves Week is Feb . 25 – March 1

Less than half of Americans save on a regular basis, but it’s never too late to get started and the reap the benefits.

Where do I even start? A thousand-mile journey begins with a single step and a little thought and organization will quickly get you on your way: Set a Goal, Make a Plan, and Save Automatically.

What are your goals? Everyone has different reasons for saving, whether it’s short-term goal, such as a family vacation, a young couple saving for a down payment on a home, or setting aside funds for college — whether your goal is short- or long-term, set a goal and stick with it.

How much should I try to save? If you wait to see what's left over, you are less likely to save. Determine in advance how much money you can afford to set aside each month and if you receive a raise, increase the amount of money deposited into your savings account. Start at 5–10% if possible and work from there.

Direct deposit is your friend. Use direct deposit into checking and savings — even a retirement account, if possible. You are more likely to actually save money when it’s physically deposited in the bank as opposed to being in your wallet, or a place in the house where you will instead be tempted to spend it.

What kind of account is best? Most financial institutions have a variety of account options to suit various needs and goals, including traditional savings accounts, special accounts designed for kids and teens, as well as those earning interest, including money market accounts and CDs.

Interest adds up over time. Many banks have competitive rates and compounding interest for CDs, savings and money market accounts, so be sure to shop around for the best deals to help your money grow.

Emergencies do happen. Experts recommend setting aside enough to cover three to nine months of expenses, just in case. Jobs sometimes come and go and medical emergencies can be financially difficult, even with insurance, so setting building an emergency fund is important.

Needs versus wants. Find ways to save by being honest about actual needs: Do you need to eat dinner out every weekend? Do you need that pricey cup of coffee every morning? Instead, get in the habit of making a cup of coffee to go each morning, or bringing lunch to work or school a couple days a week. You might be surprised how quickly the savings add up.

Don’t just spend less, put it away. Cutting expenses certainly saves money, but it’s not the same as saving if you turn around and spend it on something else. You must get in the routine of depositing that “extra” money in the bank, even if it’s only a few dollars each week or month, which is why it’s best to automatically deduct it when you are paid.

Be smart. There are thousands of options for financial products. Ask questions, be selective and compare services and rates to get the most for your money.

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