How To: Be smart about saving

Be smart about saving

Horrible at saving money? Creating a savings account to put aside and accumulate money is easier with these strategies.

You Will Need:
• Goals
• Interest projections
• Automatic deductions
• A web-based bank
• Staggered Certificates of Deposit
• A minimum checking account balance

Step 1: Save for something specific
Jot down a few big ticket items you'd buy if you had the money, and then open a savings account for each of them. Studies indicate that putting aside money is much easier if you are saving it for something specific. Once you've saved the money, you may find that you don't want the item after all.

Step 2: Calculate the interest
Calculate how much money you'll earn if you put your money in various types of interest-bearing accounts. People often underestimate how fast their savings can grow; crunching the numbers could provide the inspiration you need.

Step 3: Have savings automatically deducted
Have savings automatically deducted; experts say it's one of the most painless ways to save.

Step 4: Use a web-based bank
Consider keeping your savings in an online-only bank, where interest rates can be higher, since there are no bricks-and-mortar buildings to maintain.

Step 5: Stagger your CDs
If you park money in Certificates of Deposit, do what's known as "laddering": Spread money among as many accounts as you can, staggering their maturity dates. That way, all your money doesn't get stuck in a low-paying CD if interest rates go up, and you lock in the higher rates on some accounts if interest rates take a tumble.

Step 6: Keep the minimum in checking
Keep just enough money in your checking account to pay your bills. Even when interest rates are low, it makes no sense to leave money sitting in an account earning nothing.

Trivia: Two-thirds of people between the ages of 23 and 28 say financial fitness is more important than physical fitness.

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