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Senior Correspondent

Three separate clients of mine were almost giddy this week as they talked about their savings accounts.

What they didn’t know was that having them open a savings account is one of my two little secrets to shifting how they look at money…and themselves.

Truth is, not that long ago they were each facing different combinations of paralyzing debt, inability to focus on work, major procrastination, out of kilter income and outflow, denial, uncontrolled spending and other destructive money behaviors.

Opening a savings account?

Sounds petty, I know, but it’s not. And it doesn’t even matter how much or how little is in the account. There is something magical about putting some funds aside in your name. Maybe it’s a sign that you’re taking care of yourself. Maybe it answers a deep question about deserving. Whatever it is, it’s the cause of a major shift in virtually everybody’s behavior and attitude towards money.

And once the account is open, what typically happens is that spending plans are revisited to see if there isn’t more cash that can be squeezed out to add to the savings. In fact, online accounts are best because they make it easy to make transfers in. (And, not to worry, you’ll be surprised at how resistant you are to transferring it back out.)

The holidays are almost here, and the last thing you’re thinking of is opening a savings account. However, year-end resolutions might be percolating in the back of your mind. And we know how long those last.

So I propose something different for this year: instead of making New Year’s resolutions about losing a few pounds or getting up an hour early so you’re not late to everything, make yourself a gift instead.

Scrounge up whatever money you can find, even if it’s just loose change around the house, and open an account in your name. Better yet, if someone happens to say, “Hey, what would you like for Christmas this year?” say, “I’d love money instead of a gift. I’m opening a savings account so I can start having peace of mind this coming year. And I’d love for you to have a hand in it.”

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