There are certain milestones in life that many people look forward to: getting married, sending your child to college, and retirement. It’s fun to dream about what your wedding will be like, how your child will do in college, or where you’ll travel when you’re retired, but it’s important to be financially prepared when the time comes.

 Tip 

Look for an online budgeting tool that helps you identify and track multiple goals at once.

Here is a breakdown of how much money Americans have tucked away in case of an emergency: No emergency savings = 28%, Less than three months worth of savings = 21%, three to five months worth of savings = 17%, six or more months worth of savings = 25%, unknown = 9%. Source: Financial Security Index, Bankrate.com. Here are a few options that can help you get where you want to go:

Higher education

In the 2011-2012 school year, the average private college cost around $28,500 per year. Even at a public university, tuition alone averaged more than $8,200 for state residents and almost $20,770 for out-of-state residents. And that’s the cost today, so saving for college early can do a lot to help you afford your student’s top choice.

Savings tip: For young children, consider saving early for their college future by establishing new deposit accounts. For students in school, there may be programs available in your state to help cover education-related costs.

Big ticket items

Whether it’s a big wedding, a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, or a down payment on a home, a savings plan can help you realize your goal. By setting up multiple accounts and selecting target completion dates for specific goals, you’ll be better prepared to reach each one.

Savings tip: Online tools, like My Savings Plan , can help you stick to your goals by monitoring your progress, including a progress bar showing how far you’ve come toward achieving your goal.

Retirement

To retire comfortably, most people will need many times their current pay in savings. With retirees living longer, it’s more important than ever to have a retirement savings plan that will help you cover daily expenses, lifestyle changes and healthcare costs.

Savings tip: Use an online calculator to estimate how small changes in spending can build your retirement nest egg. To help determine whether you’re saving enough now, project your total savings by retirement, factor in your life expectancy, and then estimate a monthly or annual amount you’ll need to support yourself in retirement.

When it comes to saving money, it’s important to start as soon as possible. Once you know what you’re saving for and how you want to save, you can determine how much you want to save and find a way to make savings a part of your monthly budget.

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To retire comfortably, most people will need many times their current pay in savings.

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