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How much do you have in the bank? If you are like most Americans, then it is less than five Benjamins. Yes, that little. According to a new study, nearly half of Americans have less than $500 in savings.  

The study, by, a credit card comparison company, found that of the roughly 1,100 Americans polled, 41 percent reported having less than half a grand of savings at hand, reports The Huffington Post.

Another study done earlier this year by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, found that about a third of American workers had savings of $1,000 or less. (Another third said they have about $25,000.)

But if you are tired of living paycheck to paycheck, as more than two-thirds of Americans are, then try these few tips from

1. Save before you spend.  If you’re not doing it now, you have to find a way to save and the best thing you can do to help yourself is automate.  If the money lands in your checking account and you see it on your ATM receipt, it’s too easy to find some “need” to spend it on.  Arrange for it to be swiped out of your checking account before that happen and put into an IRA or other savings account.

2. Prioritize your savings.

  • Emergency fund first: You need at least six months of living expenses – in cash – just in case.
  • Matched contributions: After you satisfy your emergency needs, you can start putting away money for other, longer-term goals.

3. Set a realistic savings percentage per month. Start by saving two percent per month. Almost ANYONE can save two percent. In the long-term, aim to save 10 percent to 15 percent per month, but you can’t start there.

Suze Orman has an interesting idea as well: Make saving as fun as spending. If you feel like it’s an accomplishment, it’s something you’ll do more often.

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