If you're not banking as many pennies as you want to, you may be overlooking a pretty good climate for saving. That's the conclusion reached by analysts at A.G. Edwards (NYSE:AGE) when the brokerage firm calculated its most recent quarterly Nest Egg Score.

I can't tell you exactly what goes into the score -- it's "proprietary" -- but I can tell you it's a combination of 12 statistical factors and the results of a quarterly survey.

The December score came back "fair," indicating that while the conditions for building a nest egg continue to improve, people haven't taken advantage of the opportunities presented. Those opportunities include a drop in energy prices, a low unemployment rate, recent stock market gains, and decreasing tax liabilities.

According to A.G. Edwards' findings, people have been very worried about the real estate market, instead of noting positive trends in the economy. They have also preferred to spend their extra cash on entertainment and shopping, instead of saving it. In other words, the survey seems to say, you have no one to blame but yourself if you're not saving enough.

Obviously, your own personal nest egg indicator might not be as rosy as that described by A.G. Edwards -- or it may be better. Either way, the survey is a good reminder that we have little control over the economic forces pushing us around & but we do have control over our own checkbooks.

Some good reasons to start saving more:

  • Keeping a stash of cash in an emergency fund can stave off crippling credit card debt, giving you some peace of mind in case of calamities small or large. Look to the Savings Center for the whys and hows of building a comfortable emergency cushion.
  • Retirement doesn't come cheap. You'll need a lot of money to cover your expenses after you permanently say goodbye to the working world. The best way to accumulate that nest egg is to make slow and steady progress, starting as soon as possible. Check out our Retirement Center for more help. You can also get a wealth of advice from the monthly Rule Your Retirement newsletter, free for your browsing for 30 days.
  • Saving must be the first step before investing. Your money can make more money for you if you leave it alone and let it do its job. If your money's always slipping through your fingers, it will be working for someone else.

On that note, one interesting finding of the A.G. Edwards survey was that young people tended to be the most conservative with their savings, compared with people age 40 and older. Asked about their investing plans for next year, they were less likely than older savers to invest in stocks or mutual funds.

That's a shame, because younger people have more time to wait out the dips in the market that might be a bigger problem for people nearing retirement. Younger investors also have the potential to tap into a long lifetime of compounding returns, which can do wonderful things to one's retirement savings.

Investing in a basic mutual fund that tracks the stock market can be a great place for younger investors to start. Virtually any low-cost mutual fund that tracks the S&P 500 or the total stock market can give younger investors shares of corporate goliaths like ExxonMobil, General Electric, and Citigroup.

Younger investors can also be in a great position to take a little risk with a small portion of their investment portfolio by purchasing small-cap stocks. The Chinese wireless communications company KongZhong (NASDAQ:KONG) was voted the most promising small-cap by the Motley Fool CAPS community for its potential for strong growth. Other stocks that ranked toward the top included another wireless company, Atheros (NASDAQ:ATHR), and industrial goods company Walter Industries (NYSE:WLT).

So don't blame society -- just start saving. Pick a goal and put a couple more dollars toward making it happen. Your nest egg will be much happier.

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Fool contributor Mary Dalrymple does not own stock in any company mentioned in this article, and she welcomes your feedback at marydfool@gmail.com. Both Atheros and Walter Industries are Motley Fool Hidden Gems picks. The Fool has a disclosure policy .