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-- TD Canada Trust 2nd Annual Report on Savings finds half of Albertans have been in a situation where they needed a cash savings fund but less than a quarter had one set up --

CALGARY, March 26, 2012 /CNW/ - Paying off their credit cards and managing loan repayments - Albertans who have trouble saving are most likely in the country to say their debts are the biggest obstacles preventing them from opening a savings fund to use in case life throws them a curveball (61% versus 46% nationally).

According to the TD Canada Trust Report on Savings, one-third of Albertans don't have any money set aside in case they lose their job, or have to cover significant medical bills, out-of-the-blue home repairs or other unexpected expenses.

While half of Albertans (49%) admit they have been in a situation where they needed to rely on cash savings to navigate an unexpected life event, yet only 23% of this group had a fund set up. Of those who didn't have a fund, 49% had to depend on friends or family, 42% relied on a loan or line of credit and 35% used their credit cards.

"Life is full of surprises and you can't prepare for everything - but you can prepare your finances," says Greg Quinn, Vice President Distribution Support, TD Canada Trust. "It's concerning that so many people are relying on credit cards and lines of credit, instead of cash, as their financial cushion. It's so important that you set aside cash in a savings account for unexpected expenses to help you in situations - good or bad."

While they understand the importance of saving for life's surprises (only 2% don't think a savings fund for unexpected expenses is necessary), Albertans cite a variety of other reasons for not having one: they're "broke" (60%), servicing their mortgage (10%), putting their savings into investments like RSPs (10%) or saving for things like their child's education or their retirement (5%).

"It can be tough to balance all of your financial obligations, but this is precisely why it's important to set up a cash savings fund for life's surprises," says Quinn. "Without one, it is tough to find a way to cover unexpected costs, and if you decide to borrow money, paying back the money plus interest will be another monthly cost for you to worry about."

The good news is that 37% of Albertans have one to three months of living expenses saved for unexpected expenses, 10% have four to six months saved, and 20% have more than six months of living expenses in the bank.

Quinn offers his advice on what Albertans should consider when setting up a savings fund to rely on if life throws you a curve ball:

  • Make it a priority: Start today. Since it is not set up with a specific purpose in mind, it may not seem like your most pressing savings goal. But, if unexpected costs arise, it will be your number one resource. You should aim to set aside three to six months of essential expenses. You can give yourself a kick-start with your tax return.

  • Make it automatic: Set up an automatic transfer from each paycheque until you've reached your target. By that time, you'll have a fund established and you will be used to the money being taken from your paycheque. Once your fund is set up you can shift your savings efforts towards your next financial goal.

  • Avoid temptation: Your fund needs to be easily accessible if you need it but otherwise you should leave it untouched. If money tends to burn a hole through your pocket, talk to your bank about ways to avoid temptation, for instance, you could choose not to link this money to your debit card, so you don't have easy access to the funds.

  • Ensure your savings work hard for you: The difference between your 'rainy day' fund and other types of savings is that you shouldn't have it in investments where there may be penalties for accessing it or where it could potentially lose money in the short-term due to market fluctuations. That doesn't mean it can't earn interest for you though, consider a savings account where it is guaranteed to earn some interest. A TFSA is a good option, because the money you earn won't be subject to taxes.

  • If disaster strikes, rebuild: If you do find yourself in a situation where you need to rely on your savings, you'll probably develop a greater appreciation for the importance of being financially prepared. Let this be motivation to make rebuilding the fund a top priority, as soon as you are back on your feet.

About the 2012 TD Canada Trust Report on Savings

TD Bank Group commissioned Environics Research Group to conduct an online omnibus survey of 1,022 Canadians 18 years of age or older, including 129 respondents from Alberta. Responses were collected between January 23-27, 2012.

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.

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