Savings can help you achieve any financial goal. Whether it’s a comfortable retirement, a down payment for a house, or a new car or stereo, you can get there by setting money aside. And best of all, you can have what you want without getting bogged down in debt.

Yet if you’re like most people, you don’t save as much as you’d like to. Or you don’t save at all. Canadians spend more than we earn. Consider that the national saving rate has dipped to its lowest point since 1994. Today’s high energy, home and food prices may make saving seem less possible than ever.

But the time is now. And with a little forethought and effort, saving money is not only possible, it’s easy.

Make Saving a Priority

You’ll be more likely to save money if you make it a priority. Sit down and figure out what you’d like to save money for – retirement, a house, car, college, dream vacation – and how much it will cost. Then make your plan:

Find Money to Save

While it may seem difficult sometimes just to make ends meet, chances are you have extra money you didn’t even know about. Here are some ways to find it:

Pay Yourself First

You're probably inclined to pay everyone else first – whether it’s your landlord or your grocer or the electric company. But it’s vital to start paying yourself first by saving money. Once you’ve made a contribution to your financial longevity and well being, then you can divide up your money to cover everything else. Don’t worry. You'll more than likely have plenty left over to cover everything you need.

In fact, most banks make this easier. You can have them automatically transfer funds from your checking account to your savings account, money market, mutual fund and other accounts. You might also check with your employer. Companies will often deduct savings from paycheques if asked.

Power of $50 a month 

It's amazing what $50 can do. Suppose you make a $3,000 purchase using your credit card. The card has an annual interest rate of 18%. If you only pay the required 2% minimum monthly payment of $60 per month, it will take you a full eight years to clear your bill.

In fact, paying only the minimum requirement each month is a recipe for drawn-out debt despair. But if you nudge your monthly contributions up by just a little bit on each bill — say, $50 — the long-term results can be phenomenal. It is in this area of your life that you can really enjoy "savings." Why not take advantage of it?

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