The savings rate in 2005 was a shocking negative percentage. Before 2005, this had happened only during the years of 1932 and 1933. But wait -- that was the Great Depression, a time of enormous business failures and job losses. Aren’t we talking about 2005? You know, when we bought bigger and better SUVs. So, what does a negative savings rate indicate? It means that Americans were spending all of their disposable income, borrowing and then getting money out of their savings -- if they had any. Not a good sign.

Most families that look for ways to save money try everything from refinancing home mortgages, home equity loans, and low-interest charge cards, to no-down payment investment property and borrowing against retirement funds. But, in evaluating money saving options, 10 suggestions seem to float to the top: (1) give to God; (2) start small; (3) put money into a retirement account; (4) monitor ATM withdrawals; (5) pay off charges and loans; (6) pay extra on the home mortgage; (7) pay off car loans; (8) open an IRA; (9) evaluate life insurance; and (10) be accountable for your money.

Give to God.

When you recognize that God owns everything and all blessings come from Him, your role as manager, or steward is clear. Part of being a good steward means that you give back to God a portion of what He has entrusted to you. It is not that God needs your money. But, giving serves as an external, material testimony that God owns both the material and spiritual things of your life and He is the source of all your supply.

Although the tithe may indicate your obedience to God, He is looking for the right attitude in your giving. If there is no willingness to give back to the Lord a portion of what He has entrusted to you, then giving tithes upon tithes would be of little use. So, since the tithe’s purpose is to be a testimony of God’s ownership, each believer should give bountifully and cheerfully.

Start small.

Most financial experts say we need to save at least 5 percent, and preferably 10 percent, of our income and place it into an interest-bearing, liquid savings account. However, don’t give up if you’re unable to save that much. Establish a saving habit and save consistently. Even as little as $5 per pay period eventually adds up. And once saving becomes a habit, set as your savings goal a maintained savings account of at least three to six months’ income.

Put money into a retirement account.

If it’s available, sign up with a workplace 401(k), 403(b), or similar retirement plan in which your company contributes matching funds to the plan in your name. The most common match is 50 cents on the dollar. If your employer does this, you’re getting an immediate 50 percent return on your money.

Monitor ATM withdrawals.

Decide how much money you will take out each week and discipline yourself to make it last. Stick to your decision. Try to decrease the amount withdrawn every month. When you discover that you have money left over, deposit it into your savings account -- that’s right, and don’t follow the "negative savings" leaders.

Pay off charges and loans.

With desire, discipline and time, you can pay off loans and stay out of debt. The four basic steps to eliminate charge and loan debt are: (1) Transfer ownership of every possession to God; (2) allow no more debt; (3) develop a realistic balanced budget that allows each creditor to receive as much as possible; and (4) start retiring the debt.

Pay extra on your home mortgage.