Jean Chatzky
Americans love to spend money, and according to Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America, it's hurting their savings accounts. "The savings rate is less than nothing in America," Stephen says. "People think they save better than they actually do." Jean talks with Stephen about how to start saving money even if you have very little to start.
  • Build an emergency savings cushion first. You should have an emergency fund in case of car repair, emergency dental treatments or other situations that arise, Stephen says. That way you won't have to borrow the money or take out a loan.
  • Take a look at day-to-day finances. Go to a local nonprofit crediting service and ask them to go over your finances with you, Stephen says. "There may be a small penalty, but believe me, it's worth it." He says 9 out of 10 people can find something to save.
  • Put your savings on automatic. Go to your bank or credit union and tell them to automatically transfer money from your checking to your savings account, Stephen says. Even if it's just $5 to $10 a month, it's a start. Then remember that once it's in your savings account, it's off limits.
  • Open a money market account. There are ways to manage your savings so that you're not putting yourself at risk in the market, but you are getting a greater return. "A money market account allows you to save with a higher interest rate without the risk of investing in the market," he says.
  • Eliminate unnecessary costs. You may find you are wasting money on things like bouncing checks and extra fees, Stephen says. Figure out how to get that into your savings and start making more conscious choices.
The information provided here is general advice and you should always consult your own financial adviser before making major financial decisions, including investments or changes to your portfolio. The opinions expressed by the hosts, guests and callers to Oprah Radio are strictly their own.

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