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Give thanks for these consumer tools

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Tool: Money in savings accounts. "Savings rates are up from two years ago," says Hillebrand.

The nitty-gritty: During the summer of 2010, Americans were saving 5.5 percent of their incomes, according to the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis.

That's almost 2 percent more than the same time in 2008, but slightly less than for the same period last year. And 2010 incomes are also up slightly over those from the same period two years ago, according to the bureau.

How to use: This is one time it pays to keep up with the Joneses. If you don't have an emergency fund, start one. And don't fall into the all-or-nothing trap. Even a little money each month can give you enough cash to handle some of life's emergencies.

Get the most out of it by: If you can automate your savings, arrange to have a set amount automatically deposited to your savings account either each month or out of every paycheck.

Why consumers are thankful: For everyone, "higher savings provides a cushion against unexpected expenses and economic shocks," says Hillebrand.


 

 

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