Fallen off the savings wagon? 5 easy ways to reboot your efforts

This morning on our Summer Savings Reboot: some good news! It seems like our viewers (and much of America) have gotten off to a very good start this year where savings is concerned. The savings rate has been hovering around 5.5% — i.e. we’re saving 5.5% of our income this year — better than the past two years.

And some age groups are doing better than others. A recent analysis that showed Americans under age 35 are still spending more than they’re making (and taking on debt as a result) while those 55 and over are saving 13%.

If you’d like to see yourself saving more, we’ve got a few suggestions for how to jump-start yourself mid-year!

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1. Discounts you’re not getting: 84% of Americans never asked for car insurance discounts. The insurer won’t offer you a discount if you don’t ask for it, but discounts are generally available for self-reported driver information like mileage, marital status, occupation, academic standing and defensive driving skill. Someone who drives 5,000 miles a year will pay an average of 8% less than someone who drives 15,000 miles. People who are married generally pay less than singles, and teachers, nurses and accountants are all viewed as safer drivers, and can save money because of it. Pick up the phone and call your agent or insurer and ask what you might qualify for.

2. Money you could be earning on your checking account. Bankrate just found 20 checking accounts paying an interest rate of 2% or more. There are some stipulations to get that yield — you must make a certain number of debit card transactions each month, sign up for direct deposit, use the bank’s online bill pay system — but if you do all of that, these accounts may be worth it.

3. Social Security mistakes you’re making that cost tens to hundreds of thousands. The SSA reports that the average American takes Social Security at age 64. They’re missing the memo that the longer you wait to take benefits, up until age 70, the more your monthly benefit will be. In fact, it increases 8% every year between full retirement age and 70. If your benefit at full retirement age is $1,300 a month, you can turn it into $1,716 a month by waiting to take it until age 70. That’s close to $5,000 in extra income a year.

4. Turn off the lights — and other ways to trim your energy bill by 30%. Most people don’t realize that one of the biggest energy hogs in the home isn’t the refrigerator or dishwasher — it’s the cable box. The NRDC estimated that we spend $2 billion a year to power these boxes when they’re not even in use. A simple flip of that switch at the end of the day can save you big money — and be sure to keep boxes off in rooms where the TV is used infrequently.

5. Automate, automate, automate. The easiest way to make sure you meet your savings goals is to "set it and forget it." You can increase your contribution into your 401(k), move money automatically into an IRA or Roth IRA, and move money from checking into savings every time you get paid. Then, do yourself a favor and delink that savings account from checking so that you can’t pull money out of savings every time you hit the ATM.