Building Solid Financial Habits – Saving This is the one topic that I am conscious of on a daily basis. Saving money is my best friend and partner in crime, all at the same time. I call it my "partner in crime" because it sounds good. No, I am just kidding.

Actually, saving is my constant goal companion and it can be awfully burdensome at times.

Currently, I have an employer-sponsored 401K deferred savings plan, an equity mutual fund, and a savings account with my bank. I realize that with the nation's current economic state, I am doing pretty well with my savings goals. However, I still want to try and save more but cannot seem to put more away presently.

Knowing that I do not have enough saved for the future is frustrating.

Savings vehicles, along with disability income protection, are paramount financial items for any person older than 21 years of age to have. Time flies when you are having fun and it seems time moves even faster when you are extremely active professionally. The ability to save effectively determines a person's level of retirement comfort.

It has been clearly documented that Social Security benefits will not cover the cost of living during retirement. Americans are faced with having to deliver solutions to help combat the deficit income levels during retirement.

I admit that having a 401K plan, a mutual fund, and savings account are all steps in the right direction; however, I am still concerned that I am not saving enough. The saving grace is the concept of incremental savings on a monthly basis. The old fable of "The Tortoise and The Hare" reminds us that slow and steady wins the race. In other words, "get rich quick schemes" do not work and therefore do not really exist.

It is more prudent to maintain a methodical and prudent savings plan rather than attempting to assume a greater level of risk while investing money in hopes of scoring a big windfall all at one time. There is virtually no way to gain wealth overnight. Don't get me wrong, there are exceptions: Apple's Steve Jobs or Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, but remember the perception is that both of them were overnight sensations and receivers of great reward instantly, but that is simply not the truth.

From a grounded perspective, bringing your lunch to work a few days per week, refraining from buying exotic coffee brands by the cup, staying home and watching cable television with fewer trips to the movie theater to see new releases, are just a few ways to cut down on spending and generate more savings in the household.

Let's us not forget a cash reserve of at least a three to six months equivalent of take home pay stashed away for any unforeseen emergency. Most Americans simply live paycheck to paycheck. The greater issue is having the ability to set aside those monies for a rainy day.

How to put more away on an incremental basis is the key issue. I ask myself that question often. I have eliminated 99% of my credit card debt and reduced many expenses in my home. For instance, I watch the basic cable package and no longer have premium package cable channels. The amount of savings is approximately $25 per month or $300 annually, but it does get me closer to my goal of saving more.

Savings is paramount to everyone's financial future. Today's economic environment makes it very difficult to meet your savings goals. At this very moment, I think back to a phrase spoken to me in my dental office, "If you're trying, you're not failing."

This is the silver lining: if I continue to be vigilant, one day I will get to the savings plateau that I will be comfortable with. Hopefully, I have inspired you to come up with easy, common-sense based ways of reducing your expenses, and thus increasing your savings.

Joe Thompson, CareOne Services, Inc. Debt Management Plan GraduateJoe Thompson

Joe Thompson has been a Debt Management Plan (DMP) customer with CareOne Debt Relief Services since September 2008 and recently graduated to become debt-free!! Joe Thompson is active in many non-profit areas including; acting as Site Director for I.S. 8 NIKE Youth Basketball and has served as a mentor to many young inner city youths. As a hobby, Joe is a high school and college basketball referee in the New Jersey tri state area. Having officially completed the Debt Management Plan, Joe Thompson is excited to share what his experience on the DMP was like as well as what made his experience a successful one. Look for more posts under the My Journey out of Debt blog. Compensated CareOne Debt Relief Services Blogger.