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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

7 Things You Can Do To Boost Your Savings

As part of Washington and America Saves Week, FINRA has released seven things you can do to get your savings on track .

1) Check your Financial Capability. Take the FINRA Foundation's Financial Literacy Quiz, and compare your results to those of your state, region or the nation as a whole.

2) Estimate how much you'll need for retirement. Download FINRA's podcast to hear how to estimate the amount of money you'll need every month to live in retirement. Then run the numbers in their retirement calculator.

3)  Check on your retirement plan at work. Your employer's retirement plan provides tax benefits and the opportunity for your savings to compound over time. So it's important to understand every aspect of how your 401(k) plan works. FINRA's Smart 401(k) Investing guide can explain how to get started, review and rebalance your portfolio and take your retirement funds with you when you change jobs or leave the work force. If you're an employer, learn how to make it easier for your employees to start saving for retirement.

4) Spot and avoid investment fraud. Anyone with savings could be a victim of investment fraud. Learn how to spot the common tactics criminals use, plus how to check out a financial professional and the investment that's being pitched.

5) Shop around for financial products. About two-thirds of respondents to FINRA's National Financial Capability Survey said they did not compare rates when getting their last credit card. But lower interest payments or higher returns could help you save significantly more over time. Find out how to shop for bank products and credit.

6) Find an investment professional. If you want help with your finances, you can turn to a financial professional or team of professionals. Learn how to assess the help you need, the types of professionals available to you, what you should ask them and how to check their backgrounds.

7) Start a college savings plan. Despite rising prices, a college education is still within reach for many families, especially those who start saving early for it. Small amounts can grow to significant sums over time thanks to the power of compounding and the tax-advantages that come with many college savings plans. Learn about 529 plans and other savings vehicles.