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How to prioritize your savings

Apr 19, 2010 | | Comments (2)

Dear Liz: I put 10% of my income into my 401(k) retirement account and my employer matches up to 6%. Should I also be saving another 10% in a regular savings account? I have $2,500 in regular savings right now.

Answer: You don’t say how old you are, how much you’ve saved for retirement already or what your other debts are. All those factors help determine where your savings should go.

You’re smart to be contributing to a 401(k) and getting the full company match. You can use an online retirement calculator, like the one at ChooseToSave.org, to see if you’re saving enough. If you’re not, you can boost your contributions.

If you’re on track for retirement, the next step is to pay off any toxic debt such as credit cards. (Toxic debt is any debt that carries high or variable rates and that erodes, rather than enhances, your wealth.) Once that’s paid off, you can focus on building up your emergency fund. In general, it’s smart to have at least three months’ worth of expenses in a savings account to be tapped in case of real emergency, such as a job loss.

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Thanks for the link to ChooseToSave.org. Lots of answers there.


It’s a really good starting point. Thanks for your comment, Tracy!