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Savings Guide 2006

Start saving

  Sage advice on starting and maintaining a savings strategy.
6 (worthless) excuses for not saving money
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"If I know that this account is my (spending account), that's the first one I'm going to put my hands on," she says. "If I know my other account is my vacation money, I'm not going to touch it until I take that vacation."

Another way to combat this excuse is to think of saving as a luxury since your savings buy you the freedom from being constrained by money worries, says Bennett.

"The way I think about saving is I call it spending money at the freedom store," says Bennett. "Just like you buy a product or buy a service, you buy freedom. And every time you put money into savings, you are a little more free than you were before."

Excuse No. 4: Someone else will take care of it.
While this is more likely to be the excuse of a spouse waiting for the other to bring home the bacon, anyone can fall into the trap of putting the savings responsibility onto someone else.

Counting on an inheritance to kick in or even entertaining serious hopes of enjoying the fruits of gambling or lottery winnings are forms of this excuse.

Ultimately, you are responsible for your own financial future. Even if someone else does bear most of the financial responsibility in your household, "you'd better have a say-so on how it's being run, because nine out of 10 of us are going to have to take care of our own money at some point," says Stav.

Excuse No. 5: I'm saving through my 401(k).
Yes it's crucial to save as much as possible for retirement, but if you don't have additional savings for emergencies and life's occasional luxuries you're going to end up having to dig yourself out of debt.

"The reason people get themselves in trouble financially is because they don't have anything in savings," says Stav. "They think that because they own a home and they're building equity or they have money in their 401(k) that's enough. If there's an emergency or the car breaks down, then they start borrowing money."

A savings plan should have a multilayered approach: Savings should be allotted for retirement, emergencies and the evolving needs of life.

Excuse No. 6: This item or service will pay for itself.
One of the main reasons people give for blowing their savings is because they're buying intangibles that are worth more than money over time. While there are some items that fall into this category such as an education, it's easy to rationalize that something is worth more than it is.

"People say 'I should buy a vacation because I will learn about the world,'" says Bennett. That may be true, but "you have to compare financial freedom to the benefit of the trip around the world."

A better idea would be to save for that vacation. It may take longer before you can go, but you won't be compromising your financial future in the process.

Once you stop making excuses, you'll see your money add up. At that point, something interesting will happen, says Bennett.

"After you've gotten serious about saving for six months, what you'll find is you actually like it. Spending is addictive, but saving gets addictive, too."

Create a news alert for "savings" -- Posted: Oct. 1, 2006
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