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There's a deep disconnect between what Americans know they should do financially and what they actually do. That divide is especially apparent when it comes to saving. According to new findings from Northwestern Mutual, 67% of the people surveyed by the financial services company consider themselves savers rather than spenders. Yet, more than half of those surveyed said they've racked up as much or more debt than the amount they've saved.
Other studies offer more evidence that Americans are having trouble setting aside money for the future. A 2014
Without a doubt, saving money takes discipline - and some of us are more disciplined than others. If you know you need to save but are having trouble actually doing so, there are several tools that can make it easy. We asked personal finance bloggers and money experts to share their favorite ways to automate savings. Here are their picks:
Digit. This free service takes the guesswork out of saving. You connect your bank account (yes, it's secure) to the online service, then Digit analyzes your income and spending habits to figure out how much you can afford to set aside in savings. On average, it transfers
J. Money, who writes the Budgets Are Sexy blog, has been using Digit since it debuted and already has saved about
A similar option is the SavedPlus app. When you make a purchase, it moves a percentage of the amount you spend from your checking account into your savings account. You get to choose the savings percentage, which can range from 5% to 20%. SavedPlus claims that its users save, on average,
Simple. Launched in 2012, this no-fee, interest-bearing online bank account lets you set savings goals and calculates how much you need to set aside daily to reach those goals. It doesn't funnel savings into a separate savings account. Instead, you create sub-accounts, so to speak, for your goals. When you log into your account, you'll see your actual account balance and your "safe to spend" balance, which are funds not scheduled for payments or earmarked for savings goals. So if you need help with budgeting and saving - but don't like the idea of a service such as Digit that automatically withdraws cash from your account - Simple might be the account for you.
Acorns. This mobile app for Android and Apple devices invests your spare change for you into a diversified portfolio of index funds. You link the app to your credit or debit cards. When you make a purchase, it rounds up the amount you paid to the nearest dollar. Once your spare change adds up to
Betterment. This Kiplinger pick for best of the online investment advisers is a great tool for people who want to invest but don't have the time (or experience) to actively do so. You can deposit a lump sum or have monthly deposits automatically withdrawn from your bank account. Then choose savings goals - such as retirement or buying a house - to get a suggested portfolios based on your time horizon, risk tolerance and how much you need to save each month to reach those goals. Plus, Betterment rebalances your portfolio, reinvests your dividends and offers tax-loss harvesting (selling losing securities to offset capital gains and reduce taxable income). In short, it aims to take the guesswork out of investing and saving. Annual fees range from 0.15% to 0.35% of your account balance.
Copyright 2015 The Kiplinger Washington Editors
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