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Pay Yourself First

Each month, you settle down to pay bills. You pay your mortgage lender. You pay the electric company. You pay the trash collector. But do you pay yourself? One of the most basic tenets of sound investing involves the simple habit of “paying yourself first” – in other words, making your first payment of each month a deposit into your savings account. The saving patterns of Americans vary widely. And too often, short-term economic trends can interrupt long-term savings programs. For example, the U.S. Personal Savings Rate jumped from 3.5% to nearly 8% in May 2008 during the housing and banking crisis. It then rose and fell sporadically as the economic environment appeared to stabilize. It peaked in December 2012 at 12%. As of 2021, the average rate has once again varied widely between about 15% to 28%, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.1

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