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The other key to staying ahead of the game is saving. You need a savings stash to keep you from sliding back into debt. Think about it: You're moving along, paying down your credit cards, making terrific progress. And your dog gets a nasty double ear infection. Between trips to the vet and pricey medications, this ends up costing you close to $200. Where is that money going to come from?

Unless you have a stash of savings, you are probably going to put it on your credit card. Although you now know enough to put it on your lowest rate credit card, that purchase is going to set you back. It's going to impede your progress and it's going to make you feel rotten. That's why you need savings.

Turn Protection into Profit
  • As you start to pay down your debts, siphon off a chunk of money each month—3–5% is a good start but aim for 10%—and put it into savings.
  • Stash your savings in a safe place, such as the highest paying money market account you can find (go to www.bankrate.com to find the best rates today)—until you've got a substantial emergency cushion equivalent to 3 to 6 months salary. That's your protection. If you get laid off, if the dog gets ill, if your transmission dies, you'll be able to live and pay your bills without sliding back.
  • Once you've got your emergency cushion, you can start investing that money in a portfolio of stocks and mutual funds that can help you build a real foundation of wealth for your future. 

More Debt Resources:

Everything you need to know about Oprah's Debt Diet

Credit scoring 101

Debt collection and your rights

Debt Diet success stories

Baby steps to get out of debt

Train your brain to behave financially

Please note: This is general information and is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult with your own financial advisor before making any major financial decisions, including investments or changes to your portfolio, and a qualified legal professional before executing any legal documents or taking any legal action. Harpo Productions, Inc., OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Communications LLC and their affiliated companies and entities are not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your financial or legal decisions.

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