Girl takes a photograph while traveling

Are you one of the 33 percent of Americans who has nothing in retirement savings? Or one of the 66 million who doesn’t have a dime saved for an unexpected expense?

The importance of saving money is rarely disputed. Saving is one of the most basic (and most repeated) bits of financial advice out there. Despite the importance of saving money, many of us aren’t following through on that tip. When it comes to doing the right thing financially, just knowing you should save isn’t enough.

And that makes sense. It’s tough to do something consistently without understanding why you should save money and put in all that effort in the first place. After all, saving money takes discipline and a certain amount of sacrifice.

Knowing the reasons to save money can be critical if you want to stick with a savings plan for the long term. If you need help understanding the importance of saving money, consider these key reasons why you should save money now:

1. Saving can give you freedom

It can be tough to allocate some of your cash to a savings account if you don’t have a set goal for that money. Why save for later when you can spend on what you want today, right? But among the many reasons to save money is that even if you don’t know exactly what you’re saving for right now, you’ll likely find something you want to save for in the future. A new car, a new home, a child’s education… the possibilities are endless. Plus, it’s critical to have some cash set aside for emergencies and unexpected expenses as they come up.

“It has nothing to do with the money and everything to do with giving yourself flexibility and choice in your life,” says Eric Roberge, a certified financial planner and founder of Beyond Your Hammock, a financial planning firm that specializes in giving financial advice to people in their 30s.

“When you have money available in the bank you can do what you want without stress,” he says. If you’re wondering why you should save money, imagine giving yourself freedom to choose what you want to do, rather than feeling stuck in a particular situation or position because you rely on the paycheck.

How much you should save depends on your financial goals. You may have a tangible goal you want to pursue, like taking a year off work to travel. In that case, you want to estimate how much you’ll need not only to cover the cost of travel, but also to cover regular living expenses if you don’t plan to make an income during this period.

If one of your reasons to save money is to gain flexibility, you can set a specific amount aside each month (hint: automate your savings) based on what you can afford to save after things like retirement savings and emergency fund contributions.

Roberge says that you could label that savings account your “build wealth fund,” or your “freedom fund.” The importance of saving money here is to give you cash reserves that you can use when and how you want.

2. Saving provides financial security

“I love saving money because it means financial security,” says Kara Perez, who founded bravely, a resource that aims to empower women by providing them with the tools and education to reach their financial goals.

“Plain and simple, having money makes your life easier,” Perez says. “I save because I want my future self to have the same great lifestyle I have now, and I don’t want to get caught in a financial emergency.”

Perez recommends putting money in both a liquid savings account where you can keep cash for unexpected expenses and emergencies, as well as putting money into something like a brokerage account where you can invest for the future.

3. Saving means you can take calculated risks

Part of the importance of saving money is to build cash reserves so you can take calculated risks with less worry. If you don’t have any savings, it may be harder to pursue certain passions. Take starting a business, for example. To be a small business owner, you’ll need financial backing to get it off the ground.

But if you set a savings goal and contribute to your savings each month, you can explore new opportunities, even if they may temporarily impact your earnings (if you set off as a small business owner, paychecks could be slow to come at the start).

“Saving gives you the freedom to live life on your own terms,” says Matt Becker, a certified financial planner and the founder of Mom and Dad Money, a financial planning practice focused on new parents.

“When I lost my job three years ago, my wife and I used that as an opportunity to start the businesses we’d been dreaming about, rather than scrambling to find another paycheck as quickly as possible,” Becker says. “We could only make that decision because of the years we’d spent building our savings.”

Why you should save money

The importance of saving money is simple: It allows you to enjoy greater security in your life. If you have cash set aside for emergencies, you have a fallback should something unexpected happen. And, if you have savings set aside for discretionary expenses, you may be able to take risks or try new things. Pretty good reasons to save money, right?

If you’re convinced as to why you should save money, you can get in a savings groove by opening an online savings account. And good news: It doesn’t take a lifestyle overhaul to become a saver. There are simple ways to save money, which you can start practicing today. Once you’re in the habit of saving, you’ll forget there was ever a time when you didn’t save.

Discover Bank, Member FDIC

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