Tips on how to start saving

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Most Americans don't have enough money saved up in case of an emergency. A growing number don't have anything saved at all. So how can we change that?

Emily Rubin, senior vice president of wealth management at UBS, says that everyone should take a month and write down every little thing that they spend. It sounds simple, but most people don't do it. Rubin says too many adults have no idea what they're spending. That is contributing to America's problem with personal savings.

A recent GOBankingRates survey found that more than half of Americans have less than $1,000 put away and that's actually an improvement.

Too many people in our country live paycheck to paycheck, Rubin says. They have big credit card or student loan debt, which is a hard hole to get out of.

The first step to improving your personal savings is creating a budget. Rubin spends her time at UBS helping wealthy clients reach their financial goals. A lot of the advice she gives to the rich applies to the rest of us.

So how much should you save? The simple answer, Rubin says, is you should save as much as you can. More specifically, she says, you should save 20 percent of your annual income, spread across the three L's: liquidity, longevity, and legacy.

Start with liquidity.

Put at least 6 months of your spending in an emergency fund. This is for unexpected things that might come up like a medical emergency, car problems, or job loss.

Then, think about longevity (or retirement).

Rubin says many corporate retirement plans offer a company match. If you're not contributing at least up to that company match, you're leaving money on the table. UBS suggests that you set aside at least 10 percent of your annual income for retirement.

Rubin says that as people get older and have made some progress on their savings goals, they need to start thinking about their legacy: what they want to leave their children or their favorite charities.

Rubin, named a Top Wealth Advisor Mom by Working Mother Magazine, says one of the greatest legacies you can leave your children is teaching them about savings when they're young. She bought her kids a piggy bank with four sections so she could talk to them about giving, saving, investing, and of course their favorite, spending.

While everyone's income and finances are different, one of the best ways to save more money is to pay off high-interest debt, like credit cards. That's one of the biggest things preventing people from saving more money.

Also, automate as much of your savings and investments as you can. If your money goes straight from your paycheck to those accounts without hitting your checking account first, you're much less likely to spend it.