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5 Sorry excuses for not saving

Say goodbye to reasons for not saving, and try one of these strategies for getting involved.

Father and son work on a computer

Demands on household finances can siphon off even the best-intentioned saver. But if you adopt the mindset that you "can't" save, it's even more difficult to be disciplined.

If you've used one of these excuses for not saving, it's time to reconsider your savings strategies. Try these ideas today:

Excuse: "I have plenty of time to save."

Why this doesn't work: Later on you'll regret not saving sooner. "Time is your enemy in retirement planning," says James Schaffer, AIF®, CRPC®, investment advisory representative with Waypoint Partners in Cleveland, Ohio.

Try this instead: Start saving today and watch the potential for your money. Schaffer recommends revisiting the "rule of 72" to recognize the power of compound earnings: Divide 72 by the rate of return, compounding annually. Keeping in mind that past performance is no guarantee of future results, this can tell you approximately how many years it may take your money to double.

Excuse: "It's too late to build a substantial retirement account."

Why this doesn't work: It's never too late. Every bit helps. "Any amount you can save is better than doing nothing," Schaffer says.

Try this instead: Every time you get a raise, increase your retirement deferral by 1 percent or more. If your employer offers a matching contribution, take advantage of it—it's essentially free money when you contribute a portion of your pay.

Excuse: "My salary is too small."

Why this doesn't work: You have control over your expenses. "It's not about what you make but about what you spend," Schaffer says.

Try this instead: Aim to save more by looking for opportunities to cut back on spending. For instance, spend 10 minutes a week clipping coupons from the Sunday paper. "That could save you $5 to $7 a week," Schaffer says.

Excuse: "I am buried in debt."

Why this doesn't work: You are letting debt completely overwhelm you.

Try this instead: Develop a debt-reduction plan. One example: "I'm going to pay off my debt in three years, then participate in my company's retirement plan." A solid game plan is critical to staying on track, Schaffer says.

Excuse: "I am saving for—or already covering—my child's college education."

Why this doesn't work: Ultimately, retirement planning should be your priority. There are several ways to cover the cost of a college education, and your children have their whole lives to prepare for retirement. You don't. "College expenses shouldn't cheat you out of your retirement," Schaffer says.

Try this instead: Set a good example for your children by making retirement savings a priority.

Ready to make a difference? Find even more suggestions for developing good saving habits.

Stay on top of saving.

Calculate your savings Learn how much your savings may be worth with our savings calculator.

James Schaffer and Waypoint Partners are not an affiliate of any company of the Principal Financial Group.

The subject matter in this communication is provided with the understanding that The Principal® is not rendering legal, accounting or tax advice. You should consult with appropriate counsel or other advisors on all matters pertaining to legal, tax or accounting obligations and requirements.

Insurance products and plan administrative services are provided by Principal Life Insurance Company. Securities are offered through Princor Financial Services Corporation, 1-800-547-7754, Member SIPC and/or independent broker dealers. Securities sold by a Princor® Registered Representative are offered through Princor. Princor and Principal Life are members of the Principal Financial Group® (The Principal®), Des Moines, IA 50392. Certain investment options may not be available in all states or U.S. commonwealths.

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