Editor’s note: When it comes how to save money, the options – and advice about how to do so – are endless.

Yet in a financial securitysaving; how to save - smiling businesswoman in eyeglasses with piggy bank survey from BankRate in 2015, only 22 percent of Americans said they even had enough money saved to pay for at least six months of expenses. Conversely, 29 percent of Americans reported they had absolutely no emergency savings.

In addition to actually taking action to save money, we must also decide exactly how to save our money… and how not to. So we asked our financial experts at Illinois National Bank (INB) about common savings advice that personally irks them…and why they want you to consider all sides of that advice.

College for your kids: to save or not to save?

Evan Westlake
Vice President Commercial Lending, NMLS #662918

One piece of financial advice that I see time and again that I disagree with is the thought that you should focus on saving for post-secondary education for your children.

Many parents wish to pay for some or all of their children’s college expenses, and that is a noble desire. However, Dave Ramsey said it best when he noted, “Your kids’ college degrees won’t feed you at retirement.”

The best way to plan for your financial future is to set aside a sizeable portion of your gross income for retirement and then begin thinking about college savings vessels. (One possible way to do both is through a Roth IRA, but I encourage you to consult with a licensed professional – such as INB’s investment strategy expert Chris Parks – to see if that might apply to your financial situation.)

Here’s what you need to consider: essentially, you can pay college expenses in a number of ways, whether through scholarships, the student holding a job during the college years, receiving student loans or even parent-student loans. And there’s also a chance that your child may take a different career route and not attend college at all. But there are no merit-based scholarships for retirement! Saving for retirement should take priority over saving for your child’s college education.

Paying off your home mortgage as a savings method?

Todd Weir
AVP, Residential Mortgage, NMLS #502389

I hear commercials and people advocating for a homeowner to pay off their mortgage as quickly as possible and sign a loan with as short of a term as you can possibly afford.

But this is not one-size-fits-all advice. Many factors

should play into decisions like these, including what your mortgage terms and interest rates are, what your income and personal debt is, and what interest rates are on other investment opportunities. If the interest rate on your mortgage is much lower than the average rate of return on other investment opportunities, it might be a better personal choice for you to take that “extra” money and invest it in stock or real estate instead of your mortgage.

Getting a short-term loan or paying off your mortgage as quickly as you can may not be the best option for everyone, and I always encourage people to do the math for their personal financial situations.

“Just spend it; you can’t take it with you!” 

Jamie Singer
VP, Treasury Services Manager, NMLS #662910

This phrase – “don’t save your money because you can’t take it with you” – catches my attention occasionally. Though I understand the desire to want to treat yourself or indulge in retail therapy, living by this motto can cause a lot of financial strain. In my position, I see quite a few folks who have absolutely no money saved.

What people need to remember is that unexpected expenses always come up, and it is important to be prepared. Even if nothing else happens, old age is highly likely, and I know I want to make sure that I have a financial plan for those days in the future. The average American continues to have a longer lifespan, which also means we have more years of taking vacations, purchasing cars, and buying whatever else you may need and want, so being diligent with savings for times of emergency or retirement is crucial.

To start saving money is easy with INB, thanks to programs like Pocket Change and our You Name It Savings Account. To open an INB savings account, go here or call us at 217-747-5500 or toll free at 1-877-771-2316. Our team at INB is always ready to assist you in planning for your financial future.