The 14th annual America Saves encourages you to save with a goal in mind.
As we say goodbye to February, Americans are being encouraged to save during the 14th annual America Saves Week. From Monday, February 24 to Saturday, February 29, 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 America Saves nonprofit organization has designated different theme for each day to promote a dialogue about savings throughout the week.
Monday, February 24: Save automatically
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.”
Option 1: Direct Deposit through your employer
One smart way to make savings automatic is to talk to your HR department about splitting the direct deposit on your paycheck. You can request that part of your paycheck gets deposited in your savings account, while the rest goes to checking.
Option 2: Auto transfers
Another way to make saving money automatic is to set up a recurring monthly or bi-weekly transfer from your checking to your savings account.
“When you think about all the things we have automated at home, and how they make our lives easier, you wonder why you have not automated your savings too,” says Kia Young, entrepreneur, and sponsor of America Saves Week.
“We decided to set up our savings through direct deposit, sending $25 of each paycheck to our savings account. In fact, it was very convenient when our car suddenly broke down and we had to pay for repairs right away.”
Tuesday, February 25: Save with a Plan
People with a good savings plan are twice as likely to succeed compared to those who simply set the goal of saving.
On this day, America Saves Week encourages people to take a moment to assess the health of their personal finances and take their savings goals to the next level, setting smart goals.
Although it is good to have any type of goal, setting smart goals can really provide the action plan you need to succeed and reduce, for example, your credit card debt.
Wednesday, February 26: Save for the Unexpected
The third day of America Saves Week addresses another savings challenge in the United States. 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.
Thursday, February 27: 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.
Friday, February 28: Saving 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 a lot of money on interest.
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.”
Saturday, February 29: 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 think 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.