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Ask Savvy: In Need of Savings Tricks to Pay Off Debt


Dear Savvy,

I read the Savvy posts almost every day because I am in tons of debt and seriously need help. I'm the type of person that needs actual tricks to save. I have zero willpower when it comes to money. I keep seeing the Bank of America adds for Keep the Change and I feel that could really work for me. I was just wondering if you knew of any Canadian institutions offering similar programs. I've tried searching on the Internet but with no success. Any more tricks you could offer?

See my answer when you read more.

Canadian banking is not my forte, but I can definitely try and help you with a savings and debt pay-off plan. The easiest way to save, hands down, is to utilize an automatic savings plan. Bellaressa was on track with her suggestion to set up an ING account; you can quickly and easily create an online account with ING Canada and set it up so there's money automatically withdrawn from your checking account to your ING savings account.

Here's what I recommend for a relatively painless way to save and pay off debt: Open two accounts that are both connected to your checking account, one for savings and one for money that will only be used to pay off your debt. Set up your accounts so that a percentage of your paycheck is allocated to each of these accounts every time you get paid. Even though you have some debt to pay back, it's important that you build up some savings in case of an emergency so that you don't fall deeper into debt.

Before you can determine how much to deposit into those accounts each month, figure out how much you'll need for your fixed expenses like rent and bills, what you'll need to cover food costs, and if possible set aside some for having a little fun, too. Once you've determined a rough budget, commit to only living off that amount each month. Take away the temptation to spend by not even giving yourself the option — that's the beauty of automatic savings.

Goals always push me to do better with my money. Check out our calculators to come up with some savings and debt repayment goals! Whenever you feel the urge to spend, revisit your goals to help yourself stay on track.

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