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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money

America Saves Week – Just do it! Start to save or increase your savings now.


Take the steps not the elevator. Park at the far end of the parking lot and walk. Take the family for a Sunday walk rather than a Sunday drive.

 

It seems wherever we turn, there's someone encouraging us to increase our exercise and become healthier. And, the message is, "a few small steps can make the difference."

 

America Saves message is very similar: small steps towards savings can add up. America Saves is a nationwide campaign to encourage people to increase savings and build wealth.

This week is America Saves Week. All across America people are setting saving goals and beginning to take the small, but important, steps to building their wealth. You can join America Saves at www.americasaves.org. Benefits include newsletters, free financial coaching, and many, many saving tips at their website.

 

Even though I know changing my exercise habits would improve my health, I find it very hard to regularly and consistently take time to exercise. However, finding ways to save money isn't as much of a challenge for me. (Are there people out there who can change their exercise habits but not their saving habits?) So, what works for me?

 

Just do it! I find it best to make a decision to save X amount, and then put the decision on automatic. For example, using payroll deduction to deposit money into a retirement plan means that I don't even get a chance to think about spending the money. Decide once and then it happens over and over again.

 

Know what your goal is. Saving just for the sake of saving seems silly – why would you do this? However, saving so that I can take a vacation, send my kids to college, or even quit working someday – these are reasons that make sense to save and invest money. At least they make sense to me.

 

Track spending for several weeks. When I've tracked my spending (and I mean every dollar spent!) I've been amazed at where my money actually goes. Once I know where my money goes, then I can decide if I'm happy with this OR if there are changes that I want to make. Making changes can lead to finding money to save.

 

One last thing: watch out for small amounts of money that you pay for regularly. For example, think about your cell phone or cable TV contract. You know you want a cell phone or cable TV – decision made. But when you go to set-up the contract, there's lots of opportunities to add in small monthly charges. And you get to pay these extra options every month! You may find money to save by changing some of these contracts.

Add it up. Use a calculator like those on the Plan Well, Retire Well website to see how small changes add up to a big difference. A fun calculator, "Dollars from Dimes" is in the Start Saving section.

 

Celebrate America Saves Week and take that small step towards starting to save or increasing your savings. With time, your small steps will add up to real wealth. And, I'll keep working on doing a better job with exercise.

Comments? We'd love to hear from you. Send your thoughts to RetireWell@uiuc.edu. Your comments will be posted :)



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