There is seemingly little incentive to save in this economy. The markets are down, up and then down again, a never-ending roller coaster that has investors biting their nails. Interest rates on safe vehicles like CDs, savings accounts and money markets are yielding little more than 1.5 percent, and that's if you're lucky. And, by the end of the month, do people have any money left over to put in those vehicles anyway?
Apparently so. Although both of those truths would lead you to believe that the savings rate, dismal before the recession, is even worse now, that's not at all the case. In fact, it clocked in at 5.2 percent in the second quarter of this year, up from 1.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
What does that mean? It means that while we've lost a lot in this recession—college and retirement savings, emergency funds—we're now on a quest to salvage what remains. Here, tips to help you do just that:
Clearly, as a country, we're starting to get the message: Saving more money is the absolute best way to recover from losses in your portfolio. When you ratchet up your savings efforts, you're automatically closer to your goals, no matter what they are or what the market decides to do next.
If you're young, saving more just means stashing extra money away, either by cutting your expenses further or doing a little overtime or part-time work on the side to earn some more dollars. If you're closer to retirement age, it means working longer, says Greg Karp, author of The 1-2-3 Money Plan: The Three Most Important Steps to Saving and Spending Smart . "You shouldn't take more risk hoping to hit the goal number. Working just a year or two longer could dramatically affect how much money you have at retirement. " It works in two ways, actually: One, it allows you to continue putting money away for a longer period of time, and two, it allows your money to grow, untouched, for an extra year or two. Combined, these can help bring you back up to speed.