Serious About Saving? Make A Plan!

A few things to think about as you map your savings.
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Saving money can be hard without a specific goal in mind. But even then, it takes more than a goal and good intentions to keep your savings plan on track. Once you've worked up a budget and figured out how much you can set aside each month, here are a few things to consider.

Priorities: If you are saving for many goals at once -- such as retirement, a vacation and a flat-screen TV -- it can be hard to decide where best to save your money when your budget gets tight. Deciding in advance which goals can be delayed will help you adapt when your situation changes along the way.

Targets: Figure out exactly how much you need, and when you need it by, to save the right amount each month. Save too little and it will be a long time before you can enjoy that vacation. Save too much, and you risk cutting too deeply into your monthly budget. Check out's Savings Goal calculator for help setting a target.

Accounts: Where you put your money largely depends on a balance between interest and convenience. Over the short term, convenience might be more important than interest. In that case, you may want to choose a simple savings account, such as the one offered by Community Bank (Stock Quote: CBU) in the New York metropolitan area. It pays only 0.25% interest, but with a $1 minimum balance, you can start saving right away.

Trading a bit of convenience may get you more interest. You might choose a money market account, such as Lakeshore Savings Bank's (Stock Quote: LSBK) 0.75% account in New York. Alternatively, consider investing in certificates of deposit (CDs), like the 24-month CD from Capital One (Stock Quote: COF) in New York that earns 3.5%. Just bear in mind that you’ll be penalized if you withdraw your money before the CD reaches its term.

To find rate information near you, enter your ZIP code on's savings section.

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