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How much money should you be saving from each paycheck? More than you think

Saving money might be harder than you think.

One third of Americans who bring home $75,000 or more annually are struggling to put any money away in savings and are living paycheck to paycheck, according to a report released last week by SunTrust.

The survey found that 33 percent of households that make $75,000 or more each year claimed that a lack of financial discipline kept them from saving money. Similarly, 68 percent of those surveyed cited lifestyle choices — such as eating out and entertainment — as reasons for not saving money.

While these findings might be surprising, the fact is that even Americans who do manage to put some money aside aren’t saving enough.

“People are woefully under-saved, for both emergencies and retirement,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com.

McBride cited a similar study released earlier this year, which found that 18 percent of all Americans are saving nothing on a yearly basis, while 28 percent are saving a mere 5 percent of their annual incomes.

So how much should the average American be saving?

“Between emergency savings and the ever-increasing burden of retirement savings that is on the individual, the goal should be 15 percent of your income,” said McBride.

McBride said that while saving 15 percent of your income may seem daunting, it is possible — over time.

“For a lot of people, it won’t happen overnight,” said McBride. “It’s going to take some time, but it’s doable, as the middle class is showing.”

According to the Bankrate.com survey, it’s the middle-class that’s leading the savings charge. In fact, 35 percent of Americans who earn between $50,000 and $74,999 are managing to put away more than 10 percent of their income.

Make saving a habit

While people who make lesser annual amounts may think it’s harder to save money, most experts recommend saving what you can and building a habit of it.

“The easiest way I’ve found is to set aside a set amount of money from each paycheck and put it in a separate account,” said Dan Dzombak, a financial writer and analyst at The Motley Fool.

According to Beth Kobliner, author of “Get a Financial Life,” the earlier you can start saving, the better.

“Age 65 may seem like a million years from now, but the truth is, saving small amounts every day, every week, every month can really add up, and it’s very empowering,” Kobliner said.

Learn to live within your means

In today’s world, living within your means may sound old-fashioned. Access to credit cards, loans and other emergency funds easily allow you to spend more than you make. However, relying on credit cards has proved detrimental. According to the Federal Reserve, Americans have buried themselves beneath $853 billion in credit card debt.

According to a 2014 survey commissioned by the Consumer Federation of America, 66 percent of Americans admit to struggling to live within their means.

“Only about one-third of Americans are living within their means and think they are prepared for the long-term financial future,” said Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the CFA.

To learn to live within your means, consider the following tips:

  • Know how much you make
  • Spend less than you earn
  • Get off the credit card addiction
  • Forget trying to keep up with the Joneses
  • Use cash for as many purchases as possible

Email: tstahle@deseretdigital.com, Twitter: @tstahle15