Jean Chatzky of 'Money Matters': Tips For Saving and Planning Ahead

Jean Chatzky, financial editor of the "Today Show" and author of seven personal finance books, strives to help baby boomers become and stay solvent. On her new RLTV series, "Money Matters with Jean Chatzky," Chatzky tackles issues that matter most to the 50-plus demographic, such as retirement and funding a child's college education. Viewers take to Skype, Twitter, Facebook, and email to get their questions answered.

Below is a sample of her best tips.

Save, save, save.

Have a goal in mind and save up for it; this will stop you from making impulse buys. Not sure if you should make that purchase? Chatzky suggests thinking it over for 24 hours. "Often you'll decide you didn't need it anyway," she says.

Automate your savings.

Once you determine how much to save, direct that money to your savings account. "It's easier to make a good decision one time and have it happen automatically than to make the same good decision over and over again," Chatzky explains.

Plan for retirement wisely.

First, determine how much you need to save in order to live comfortably during retirement. Chatzky suggests using the Ballpark E$timator. But before you start plugging in numbers, you'll need to know approximately how much income you'll receive from Social Security, pensions, or part-time employment, and the age at which you plan to retire. The calculator will provide a dollar target for savings. Make that goal a reality by socking away money every month.

Improve your credit score.

Pay down credit cards with the greatest outstanding balances before tackling the cards with the highest rates. At CNN Money Chatzky recommends using only 10 to 30 percent of your available credit and never going beyond 30 percent. Always pay your bills on time, don't apply for new credit cards, and don't cancel old ones because doing so can drag down your credit score.

Question your bills.

Don't blindly pay off debts and interest rates on outstanding balances. Negotiate both and put the dollars saved into your savings account.

Keep your emotions in check. Don't shop sad, angry, or hungry. Doing so will most likely lead to overspending and buyer's remorse.

Create a holiday budget and stick with it. It's easy to let holiday shopping get out of hand. No matter how important friends and family are, it's critical to spend within your means. Chatzky suggests allotting no more than 1 to 1.5 percent of your annual salary to holiday gifts. Set a budget and assign an amount for each intended recipient. Do some research ahead of time so it will be easier to stay within your limit. Remember, if you spend more on one person you have less to spend on someone else.

For more financial advice from Chatzky, visit her site and follow her on Twitter @JeanChatzky.

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