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Ways to Save your Cents

You promise to save your money every year; but by the end of the year you realize you didn’t save a dime. Do not worry, follow this plan to start a sensible savings plan.

43 percent of all working-age households in the United States aren't saving enough to ensure comfort and security during retirement, according to a recent study by Boston College's Center for Retirement Research (CRR). Women, in particular, need to have a financial safety net in place, says analysts from the PBS series, To the Contrary. They're considered more likely than men to end up in poverty as they age, due in part to the gender gap, an average woman makes 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, and to their role in society as caretaker.

All women need to remember that taking care of others means taking care of you first. There's no better way to do this than by ensuring that you have enough money to last a lifetime. No matter what your age, it's never too late to take charge of your wallet. Here's how to start:

Set a savings goal. To do that, figure out where your money is going. Carry a notebook around for a month and write down every purchase you make. At the end of the month, look for where you can trim, and then set a goal that makes you stretch a little but doesn't leave you subsisting on Ramen noodles.

Decide where to put your money. A tax-free retirement plan, such as a 401(k) or IRA, allows you to spread your money out among several different investments, making it more secure. Because there's a penalty for taking money out too early, you have less incentive for prematurely dipping into your savings.

Start saving automatically. Ask your benefits manager at work to deduct a set amount from each paycheck and add it to your retirement or savings account. If your employer doesn't offer a retirement plan (or automatic transfers), ask your bank to routinely transfer money from checking into savings on a certain date each month. It is effortless, and you do not have to remember to do it.

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