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Saving money is a bit like exercising. We all know how important it is, but it can be hard to actually get into the habit. If you’re interested in getting started with savings, or if you want to save more, here are five reasons to help keep you motivated.

1. You’ll Be Prepared for Emergencies — Here’s an alarming fact: most Americans don’t have enough money saved to cover even relatively small unexpected expenses, such as emergency room co-pays, minor car repairs, or a broken furnace. Without cash on hand to cover these irregular but inevitable costs, you’re more likely to turn to credit cards or loans when the need arises. Unfortunately, at that point, you usually need money fast. Not only are you forced to take on debt, but you don’t have time to shop around, making it more likely that you’ll end up with an expensive, high-interest loan. Plus, the more debt you have, the more difficult it is to save. The result? A downward financial spiral that can be difficult to pull yourself out of.

2. You’ll Be More Independent — Having savings gives you more flexibility and independence. With a healthy amount of savings, you can feel more free to take risks, like starting your own business, heading back to school to train for a new career, purchasing a home of your own, or moving to a new city. Plus, without savings, you’re living on the financial edge, and you’re more likely to find yourself stuck in situations that you may not be satisfied with — working just to pay off debt, trapped in an unfulfilling job because you can’t afford to search for better opportunities, or stuck in a less-than-desirable neighborhood because you don’t have the financial resources to upgrade. Committing to savings today, even if it’s just a small amount, will start to give you the freedom to make different choices in your life.

3. You’ll Be Able to Reach Your Goals — We all have goals. Maybe you simply want to enjoy a comfortable retirement one day. Or perhaps you’re dreaming of a second home by the lake, sending your kids to college, or starting your own business. Whatever your dreams, they likely have one thing in common — they probably require some money to become a reality. Few of those dreams are achievable if you don’t save for them.

4. You’ll Be Able to Earn More Money — Saving isn’t just about setting aside what you’ve already earned. It’s also about putting your money to work for you. Depending on where you save and invest your money, you can earn more just by being diligent about saving. Because of the power of compounding earnings, even relatively small amounts can grow significantly, provided you don’t touch your principal.

5. You’ll Be Happier — Money isn’t the only thing that can make us happy. But there’s evidence that saving money, even in small amounts, can make us happier. In contrast, having debt (often a consequence of a lack of savings) tends to lead to unhappiness.

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