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Building a Financial Cushion

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It often seems that saving money is almost impossible.  Unexpected expenses or the temptation of buying something new can make even the best plans unsuccessful.  Having a financial cushion is one of the most important things you can do to feel financially secure. Here are a few ideas that can help you get started:

  1. Contribute to your retirement plan at work.  Many companies offer employees the opportunity to defer income into a 401(k) plan and will also help with a matching contribution for some level.
  2. Sign up for an automatic savings plan.  If you transfer a set amount into a special savings account from your checking account each month, you will come to view that amount as a regular “expense” and may not even notice it is gone.  For example, our Saver’s Club account allows you to automatically transfer a set amount into a savings account.  Over time, the amount will add up and you can use the amount you saved to pay for things like vacation, emergencies or holiday shopping.
  3. Reduce high interest rate debt.  If you are paying interest on credit cards or some other loan that has a high interest rate, find a way to pay it off.  Interest rates in the teens make it hard to get ahead of the minimum monthly payment required.  You might also consider finding another credit card with a lower interest rate.
  4. Stay local for your vacation this year.  As much as you may look forward to taking a long trip, consider staying home, visiting relatives or traveling somewhere local to keep vacation expenses down.
  5. Lower your monthly expenses.  A less expensive place to live, a cheaper cable bill or decreasing the amount of times you eat out are all ideas to help you save money quickly.

Saving money is usually a case of self-discipline.  It may be hard, but having a savings cushion can provide peace of mind and a source of funds when you need them.

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