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Originally published Sunday, June 21, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Money Tip

Spend some and save some

According to a recent survey by online banking business HSBC Direct, people who are longtime active savers are enduring this economic downturn virtually unscathed.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

My grandmother was no financial wizard. So her advice about saving money was plain and simple: "Spend some and save some."

Fortunately, I got the message.

According to a recent survey by online banking business HSBC Direct, people who are longtime savers are enduring this economic downturn virtually unscathed.

Nearly half, or 46 percent, said they remain comfortable with their financial situation and have not had to cut back on spending, eating out or making large purchases. By contrast, 37 percent of nonactive or periodic savers said they had to scale back on living expenses.

This survey offers some important lessons for people who have poor or inconsistent saving habits. The main one is it's going to take more than an economic crisis to get people to permanently change their spending and savings practices.

Most of 1,000 consumers surveyed, 85 percent, were willing to save more and spend less to get through this current recession.

However, 76 percent believe that once the economic situation improves, everyone is going to return to their old ways.

"It's difficult to change," said Kevin Martin, executive vice president of Personal Financial Services, HSBC Bank.

In fact, the survey revealed that most active savers started at a young age. Seventy-three percent of savers said their parents instilled the value of saving.

Martin says consumer shouldn't worry if they didn't learn to save early.

"Our research shows that you can start saving money at any time," Martin said. "You just need to move to a savings mentality. You can't look at saving as a luxury. You should see it as an obligation."

Nearly 60 percent of active savers with direct deposits put more than 10 percent of their income into retirement or other saving accounts.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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