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Simple strategies for saving can add up

The savings rate in the United States may be down according to government statistics, but a new survey indicates that the vast majority of Americans do save on a regular basis.

Some 81 percent save regularly, according to the study, released today by the GE Center for Financial Learning (www.financiallearning.com), a website designed to promote financial literacy.

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Other findings from the poll of 1,000 people:

• Americans are most likely to save for retirement, vacations, and to pay off debt (see chart).

• 97 percent of households with incomes of $100,000 save on a regular basis, and 79 percent of this group save specifically for retirement.

• 38 percent of Americans save between 5 and 10 percent of their monthly incomes, 32 percent save 11 percent or more, 24 percent save 4 percent or less.

The reason given by people for not saving more? "I can't afford to." Other top reasons given: too much credit-card debt, living on a fixed income, and high mortgage or other payments.

For those who want to save more, the simplest answer is: Spend less. To help you get there, the GE Center for Financial Learning provides some suggestions (right) that could lead to big savings.