Savings: Your Key to Success

You have wants. You have needs. And you have two ways of paying for them - pull out the credit card or use the money you have set aside. Which would you prefer?

It's a safe bet that most people would choose to have a stash of cash from which they could pay for everything from impulse purchases to long-term financial goals. But how do you save when there are bills to pay and a paycheck only goes so far?

Do it now. Even without a specific goal, saving immediately will make you feel good. Have debt? Put a little aside anyway. Acquiring a savings habit as soon as possible is critical. By setting a little aside each month while aggressively paying down your obligations, you will graduate into being debt free with a happy little nest egg in place. And in the event of an emergency you won't have to touch the credit cards and feel like you're driving in reverse.

Set a goal. All achievable goals share the same four factors:

  • Really want it - or you won't be motivated
  • Know the price - so you know how much to save
  • Set a time frame - and break it down into reasonable and consistent deposits
  • Be flexible - contribute less if you have to, but don't give up

Put it somewhere. How much you have, your time frame, and personal risk tolerance will determine the best home for your money. A few accounts you may consider are:

  • Savings account - A great starter account. Interest and risk are low and minimum deposit is small.
  • Money Market Account - This savings account pays slightly better interest but may require a higher minimum balance.
  • Money Market Fund - A very secure mutual fund account. Invested in high-quality, short-term investments. Higher deposit, interest and risk.
  • Certificates of Deposit - Three months to six years investment commitment, CDs offer higher and fixed interest rates, but with a greater initial deposit and penalty for early withdrawal.

For mid to long-term goals, you may opt for investment rather then savings vehicles. After you've saved enough in one of the above accounts, you can transfer your money to mutual funds, bonds, or individual stocks if you wish.

Impossible? Not at all. With careful planning, savings is the key to successfully managing your money and getting everything you want.