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- Majority of Canadians already put away 10% or more of their paycheque, more are making a pledge to do so in the New Year -

TORONTO, Dec. 14, 2011 /CNW/ - The holidays are not typically a period associated with financial prudence, but fortunately, the majority of Canadians have taken steps throughout the year to build a bit of a financial cushion. Saving is an ongoing habit for the majority of Canadians with recent research from TD Canada Trust indicating that 53% set aside at least 10% of each paycheque. Looking to the New Year, more are pledging to start building their nest egg, with nearly six-in-ten saying they plan to save at least 10% of each paycheque.

"This time of year, we focus heavily on budgeting for holiday expenses, but in reality, it's the steps you take during the other 11 months of the year that are going to make the biggest difference to your overall financial picture," says Raymond Chun, Senior Vice President, TD Canada Trust. "If you saved throughout the year, you're probably in good financial shape despite any holiday splurges. However, if you didn't save throughout the year, now's the time to set yourself up for financial success in 2012."

Make a financial pledge to yourself in 2012: the three steps to improved financial success

1. Pay yourself first:

TD Canada Trust research indicates that some Canadians may think they don't earn enough money to be able to save regularly. Chun advises that even small amounts can add up over time and "when you automate your savings by setting up a transfer from each paycheque, the money is put away before you have a chance to see it, or miss it".

For those who already set aside money each paycheque, speaking with someone at your bank can help ensure your money is working for you. For instance, by switching your automatic transfers to an investment product within a TFSA, rather than a traditional savings account, you may benefit from higher-interest rates without paying tax on the growth. Further, if you've grown comfortable with the amount you save each month, in the New Year, you might consider increasing the amount of your monthly transfer.

2. Balance financial priorities:

Despite the best intentions to save, many Canadians have other financial obligations and are concerned about how to best spread their resources. Chun emphasizes the importance of living within your means.

"If you don't have money to save each month because after housing and food your funds are being used for entertainment, for example, you need to examine your budget to see where you can cut back," says Chun. "If you are spending more than you bring in each month, it is hard to get ahead. There are tools available through your bank, such as budget calculators that can help you easily calculate what you owe and what you can realistically save each month."

For those starting out the year with debt, Chun suggests concentrating on paying down your highest interest debt before turning your focus to savings. "It's important to balance saving for the future with paying off debt now. As important as it is to save - and it is - if you are carrying debt at 19%, tackle that first before you put a significant focus on savings, but make sure you have an emergency fund that will cover at least a few months of expenses just in case."

3. Make it easy - get organized:

The same way monthly transfers can make savings happen automatically, pre-authorized debits can ensure that bills are paid on time to avoid late fees and interest charges. "If you're prone to missing payment due dates, setting up an automatic monthly withdrawal for the minimum or full amount will help you avoid late fees," says Chun. "This is a good strategy to give you a bit more flexibility when you look at your statements. It's still important to review statements regularly and to ensure bills are paid off in full to avoid interest charges."

"Another popular New Year's resolution is to de-clutter; to do this simply turn off the paper and switch to paperless recordkeeping or online statements, and automate your savings and bill payments. Instead of receiving your bank statements in the mail, view your activity online or on your Smartphone with the TD mobile app," Chun suggests.

About TD Canada Trust:

TD Canada Trust offers personal and business banking to more than 11.5 million customers. We provide a wide range of products and services from chequing and savings accounts, to credit cards, mortgages and business banking, to credit protection and travel medical insurance, as well as advice on managing everyday finances. TD Canada Trust makes banking comfortable with award-winning service and convenience through 24/7 mobile, internet, telephone and ATM banking, as well as in over 1,100 branches, with convenient hours to serve customers better. For more information, please visit: TD Canada Trust is the Canadian retail bank of TD Bank Group, the sixth largest bank in North America.

About the TD Canada Trust Holiday Poll

TD Canada Trust commissioned Environics Research Group to conduct a national telephone omnibus study of 1,000 Canadian adults. Results were collected between October 25-31, 2011.

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