Seven Savings Strategies

Need help getting started saving for retirement or other goals?
  • Donít splurge with your tax refund. About 40 million American taxpayers receive a federal tax refund, with the average around $2,400. The temptation is everywhere -- witness the instant loans being advertised by tax preparers -- to grab the money now and spend it. Instead, take it as an opportunity to use it wisely -- to save it or pay down debt.

  • Take full advantage of your employerís retirement contributions. Many of us work for companies that offer a free match to our contributions -- in most cases about 50 cents to every dollar we put in, up to a certain percentage. This is free money. Thatís worth repeating. Itís free money. Itís a good idea to take it.

  • Start small and stay steady. The most important word there is "start" -- as young as you can, with whatever you can. Simply starting a savings plan enables time to work for you rather than against you. Many of our customersí success stories began their first chapters just by turning spending into saving -- setting aside the coins that used to buy that daily jelly doughnut.

  • Pay yourself first. Few among us have the sustained determination to month-in, month-out choose the important over the urgent. Thatís why the best plans start with "taking money off the table" -- that is, automatically depositing funds into our savings accounts right from our paychecks, before we can touch it.

  • Create separate pots of savings for upcoming life-stages. For all the people who jeopardize their retirement by focusing only on the next big financial challenge, there are more who put too much emphasis on retirement at the expense of other needs that require just as much preparation, if not more. Donít forget to set aside savings for other big expenses, like buying a home, paying for college, unexpected emergencies, your daughterís wedding, etc.

  • Find the right education plan, for those with children. There are lots of different savings options and college savings plans differ, depending on which state you live in. None of them are "one size fits all." You need to determine what makes sense for you and your situation. Which brings us to the seventh, final, and in our view most important pointÖ

  • ...Work with someone you know and trust. Successful savings plans canít be mass-produced, and they canít be put on autopilot. Financial issues are complicated and risky -- It pays to work with a professional who knows what theyíre talking about, and who also knows you and will stay with you over the long haul and through the ups and downs of your household.