Suze Orman
Photo: Marc Royce
The Power of the Savings Craze

It's a stretch to say we should be grateful for the Great Recession, but for many Americans, economic hardship has proved to be a remarkable catalyst for change—and I mean change for the better. Paying down debt is one of the most effective ways to save, and ever since the financial crisis swept in, we've been in the midst of a massive savings binge. Our national tab for credit card debt has fallen from an all-time high of $989 billion in December 2008 to $831 billion today. Clearly, there's still room for improvement—but a 16 percent reduction in such a short period is unprecedented progress. As is the fact that about two-thirds of credit card users say they now pay their bill in full each month, compared with 43 percent a year ago. We're witnessing a nationwide revelation: Unloading debt means you have more money to put toward your emergency fund, your retirement account—your future. Maximize your savings and you maximize your financial freedom. And there's every indication that this trend will persist. About half of Americans say they intend to save even more once the economy recovers, according to Pew Research. Saving, it seems, is the new status symbol. Suze Orman


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