savings

6 ways to a successful savings plan

Track it online

The Internet puts financial planning at your fingertips. Sites such as GoSimplifi.com and Mint.com help you set up goals and then track your progress toward them. "If your financial plan is online, you can update it whenever you want from the privacy of your own home and on your own schedule," says Bryan Link, CEO of SimpliFi, a free financial planning and advice service.

Having a plan online can help make savings a reality. "Those with a plan are more likely to reach their goals," says Link. He suggests creating online midterm goals (such as saving for a car) and working toward them as well.

Get started on your goals with Bankrate's savings goal calculator.

Reward yourself

Saving is no fun if you don't reward yourself occasionally, says Pablo Solomon, an artist and designer based in Austin, Texas. Solomon came from a low-income background, but he and his wife have focused on saving -- and occasionally rewarding themselves -- throughout their marriage.

So go out for dinner, buy the gadget you've had your eye on or take the family on an outing when you reach a financial goal. Then continue on toward your next savings goals.

Invest your raise

If you get a raise, give yourself a pat on the back -- and then invest it. "Take the first month and celebrate," says Snow. "Then bank the raise."

Consider having the difference taken automatically out of your checking account and deposited into an investment account so you never even notice it. Since you were able to live on less before, you can continue doing so.

As for the new money being invested, well, that's toward fun times in your future.

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