As Benjamin Franklin once famously quipped:  “If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting.”   Unfortunately, in today’s world, many of us concentrate far more on the “getting” rather than the “saving.”  Current statistics show a frightening trend among Americans when it comes to saving their money towards retirement or maintaining a so-called “rainy day” fund.  Just over 40% of households in the United States have a zero dollar amount in actual savings.  Even more alarming is that nearly 30% of Americans are considered “asset poor.”  Asset poor means that an individual does not have enough assets or savings in their name to cover three months of  basic living expenses.  Low savings rates and high poverty rates continue to climb year after year.

Many of you want to proactively save and invest money so you can be financially secure and leave money behind for your loved ones as part of your estate plan.  So, with all the negative news on saving money, how do you do it?  The following are just a few of the simple, yet wise, tips that can help one have the financial discipline to save.

1.  Get rid of the unnecessary items!  As you go through your monthly expenses, you’ll likely notice that you are paying for things you do not use and do not need.  You may have a club membership you never use, movie rental subscriptions you have forgotten about, or you are paying for yard care and home maintenance you could easily do yourself.  You may be able to free up hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dollars each month in expenses for things you do not use and do not need.  This is precious money that can be going towards your 401(k), a real estate investment, or a general savings account.

2.  Make a monthly payment to yourself!  This means that you budget a set amount each month to go into a savings or money market account.  This is the first “bill” you pay.

3.  Focus on getting rid of any high interest debt.  By getting rid of high interest debt, such as credit cards, you can give yourself the financial freedom to have more money to save and invest.  Pay these types of debt off as quickly as possible!

4.  Maximize any retirement benefits you have through work.  If your employer offers a matching 401(k), no matter how much they match per dollar contributed, contribute the maximum amount you can.  This is free money!  If your employer does not offer a 401(k), you can always open a personal retirement account or a Roth IRA and contribute a set amount of your income each month to the avenue of your choice.

These are just a small sampling of the saving and investment tips that can have a dramatic impact on your standard of living and your standard of living when your retire.  It’s never too late to start applying these principles in your personal financial planning.

For additional reading:

An Asset Protection Trust

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