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10 savings tips that work

By Marcie Geffner · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Posted: 9 am ET

Many people find setting aside money to be a major challenge, and it's even more difficult in these tight-budget times.

With that in mind, here are 10 tips, courtesy of America Saves, a campaign coordinated by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America, to help you save at least a little -- or better yet, a little more -- even if you don't have a lot to spare.

1. Pay off high-cost debt. Payday loans and credit cards have sky-high interest rates. Paying off these debts can reduce or eliminate interest expense, allowing you to save that money, instead of spending it.

2. Go easy on birthdays and holidays. A few well-chosen gifts will be more appreciated than a costly pile of thoughtlessly picked purchases.

3. Track spending. Keep a careful record of all your expenditures, no matter how small. You might be surprised at how much you can save by giving up a small luxury or two.

4. Comparison shop for such necessities as food, transportation and insurance. Be careful not to compromise crucial needs, like health care and car maintenance, for the sake of saving a few dollars, however.

5. Open a savings account. Having savings means you won't have to borrow to pay unexpected costs. Keep your balance high enough to avoid monthly fees.

6. Save automatically. Set up a recurring transfer from your checking account to a savings account. Even $10 or $15 a month adds up to more than $100 a year.

7. Deposit coins. Setting aside your loose change can help you save as much as $100 a year or more.

8. Take a tax credit. Low- and moderate-income workers who qualify for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit can receive up to $1,000 or more each year. Save at least half of this windfall.

9. Get educated. A local Investment Development Account program can help you save a few dollars at a time for attending financial education sessions and agreeing to save for a home, education or business.

10. Take advantage of employer-matched retirement savings. Some employers match up to 100 percent of what you contribute, helping you to save for retirement or withdraw or borrow those funds in an emergency.

Follow me on Twitter: @marciegeff.

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