MONTREAL -- An online poll has found that Canadians were planning to save almost $10,000 this year, but 66 per cent say they're tucking the money away for vacations, luxury items and entertainment.

The average Canadian was planning to save $9,859 this year to meet their goals, an increase of about $600 over last year, according to the BMO Household Savings Report released Monday.

Janet Peddigrew, district vice-president with BMO, says although Canadians value their down time and their vacations, they do need to think about the big picture.

"They're not using a credit card, perhaps, for a vacation,'' Peddigrew said.

"However, they need to balance their short-term needs with their long-term goals. That might mean there are certain things that we might not need to have immediately, like the luxury items,'' she said.

The survey found that men saved $11,631 a year and women $8,091, while the amount a person saves depends on income and expenses.

The poll also found that the average total savings among Canadians was $122,310 but that only 48 per cent of Canadians said they were saving enough due to high expenses, low income and debt repayment.

The second most common goal for saving was for retirement and emergencies, the survey said. Of those polled, 42 per cent said those were priorities in 2013.

Nearly one third of those surveyed said they would put aside money for home renovations this year, while one in five would be saving for a new vehicle.

Education savings were the priority for 19 per cent of Canadians polled, followed by 15 per cent who said they would be saving for a new home.

The survey found that 63 per cent of Canadians are using a Registered Retirement Savings Plan and 57 per cent were using a chequing account to save.

Half of those surveyed use a Tax Free Savings Account, 29 per cent were using a high-interest savings account and another 25 per cent put their savings in Guaranteed Investment Certificates.

Peddigrew said saving just $50 a month or $100 a month can help start build up savings.

"If you don't do that, the money will just disappear. It's human nature,'' she said.

The survey also found that Albertans were aiming to save $18,035 in 2013 and British Columbians planned to save $11,109 this year.

Quebecers planned to save the least with an average of $5,477 and those in Atlantic Canada planned to save $6,698.

The online survey was conducted by Pollara between Jan. 10-15 with a sample of 1,000 Canadians.

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  • Keep Some Wiggle Room

    The key, Jarman says, is to live on less than you earn. Keep some wiggle room for youself so you don't spend close to or above your limit. When you get your next paycheque, try to save more -- at least three to ten per cent -- and spend less.

  • Get Used To Saving

    Save, even if it's just a few dollars at a time. As you start your career, paying down student debt and planning major purchases like a car or first home can make it difficult to save. The trick is to incorporate savings into your budget before you get accustomed to spending it every month, Jarman says.

  • Emergency Funds Are For Emergencies

    "As a general rule of thumb, an emergency fund should be about three times your monthly expenses if you are single, and six times your monthly expenses if you are married or have children," Jarman says. Opening a high-interest savings account will help you earn money through interest.

  • "D" Is For Discipline -- Not Debt

    Organize your debt in order of interest rates and pay off the debt with the highest interest rates first. You may also want to consider consolidating all of your loans under one umbrella, with a lower interest rate if you can, Jarman says. Make your payments on time and, when you can, pay more than the minimum payment. Missing payments can hurt your credit score and should be avoided at all costs.

  • Rethink Spending

    Let's say that, on average, you spend $10 a day on lunch. That's $50 a week and $2,600 a year. If you earn $30,000 a year, for example, you would save up to nine per cent of your salary by preparing lunch at home, Jarman says. Saving on these simple costs leaves you more money to save with a RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan) or TFSA (Tax-Free Savings Account).