America Saves encourages you to save money with a goal in mind.
It’s America Saves Week—a week dedicated to helping Americans focus on saving to improve their financial lives. From Monday, February 21 to Friday, February 25, thousands of nonprofit, government agencies and private organizations will join the cause. The goal? To help people adopt better saving habits in the United States.
The objective of this year’s America Saves Week is to promote different reasons to save money, always emphasizing the importance of doing so. The ASW nonprofit organization has designated a different theme for each day to promote a dialogue about savings throughout the week.
The first day of America Saves focuses on teaching people the best way to save money. Putting savings on autopilot is often the best way to kickstart a healthy saving strategy. You determine how much you can save, then you build the amount into your budget.
“You should think of savings like a bill you pay yourself,” says April Lewis-Parks, Financial Education Director for Consolidated Credit. “Then you find a way to start saving automatically.”
There are plenty of ways that you can make savings automatic, from splitting your paychecks to send money directly to saving, to using a spare change app that rounds up purchases and invests the difference. The more you can automate your savings, the more consistently you can save.
Save for the Unexpected
Unexpected expenses are a leading cause of debt problems for Americans. Whether it’s a medical emergency, a car accident, or an expensive home repair, unexpected life events can derail your finances if you don’t save effectively, In fact, 40% of Americans do not have enough saved to cover a $400 emergency.
Sari Mazon, a teacher who participates in the America Saves initiatives, tells her story about emergency savings: “When I was a child, my family didn’t really talk about saving, there was no concrete plan for the next. Having to create the habit of saving and creating a savings plan as an adult was really a challenge.”
Mazon confesses that getting used to saving felt like giving up her money. But after developing the habit and establishing an automatic savings plan, now she and her family work continuously on different savings goals. “It is very important to make good financial decisions, not only for us as a young family… but also to teach our children these valuable lessons,” she explains.
While it’s impossible to predict what may happen, you can still plan for life events that may occur. Doing so means you will be less likely to face financial hardship and debt.
Save to Retire
Most Americans are significantly behind in retirement savings. In fact, very few people in the United States have an adequate retirement plan for their life expectancy during retirement.
As part of Savings Week, America Saves also collected some expert advice to meet the challenges of saving for retirement.
Attiya Ingram, financial advisor
No amount is too small. Those ‘two or three’ dollars that you set apart each time, will add up. If at the end of the month you managed to save $150, after 40 years, that $150 per month will become a million dollars.
Maggie Boys, communication director, Institute for Women’s Safe Retirement
Calculate your retirement needs. Look at the W-2 form your employer gives you and multiply your salary (before taxes) by 20 years. That number may be less alarming than the numbers you probably imagine.
Dr. Martin Lowery, retired
Don’t forget about Social Security. It may not seem like a lot of money, but that extra money for retirement is very important… because it can be scary to approach that 65-year threshold thinking that your retirement money will not be enough.
Save by Reducing Debt
When we talk about America Saves Week and everything that it promotes, there is something that is not said so much: paying debts IS saving! By reducing credit card debt, you save the money you’ve been spending paying off interest charges..
In the same way, when you make your payments on time, you will save on late fees and maintain a healthy credit score, which translates into long-term savings.
“When you pay and reduce your debt, you put yourself in a position to faster achieve that financial stability that you want so much,” explains Jen Hemphill, financial advisor and host of her podcast Her Dinero Matters. “In addition, you can redirect those savings to whatever you need, instead of having to focus on living from paycheck to paycheck.”
Save as a Family
The best way to teach your children good savings habits is to be a living example of good savings habits for them. Although most people understand the importance of making good financial decisions, a good part of them thinks that they did not receive adequate financial education during their youth.
This year, America Saves Week concludes with a day dedicated to adopting healthy financial habits as a family, including teaching kids the value of saving.
Meeka Caldwell, a mother of four children, learned the value of money earned as a child. She and her husband have carried those practices to involve all the family in their mission to save.
“Definitely, one of the ways we save as a family is to stay at home and have fun with board games, instead of going out and spending in entertainment centers or other places.” So, says Caldwell, she teaches children to save while at the same time saving for the next vacation.
The Caldwells are also responsible for teaching their children to limit the use of water and turn off the lights when leaving to save even more. “Our goal is for our children to understand the value of saving money because thus, saving will be much easier for them than it was for us,” Meeka points out.
America Saves is a nonprofit organization that uses the principles of behavioral economics to motivate, encourage and support ordinary people to save money, reduce debt and create better financial habits.
If debt is stopping you from saving effectively, talk to a certified credit counselor for a free, confidential debt and budget evaluation.