Every year, thousands of organizations, including banks, credit unions, and nonprofits like us participate in America Saves Week. Credit.org is a local campaign coordinator, sponsoring Inland Empire Saves and San Diego Saves.
America Saves Week History:
America Saves Week began in 2007 as an annual reminder for all Americans to think about their money, set financial goals, and ultimately become savers. Our friends at the Consumer Federation of America started this initiative, and we’ve been proud to be a part of it for over a decade now.
Besides us, nearly 2,300 organizations participated in last year’s America Saves Week and over the years, the campaign has reached millions of Americans. America Saves encourages participants to take a pledge to save, and last year, over 300,000 individuals opened new accounts or added to their existing savings in honor of the event.
In fact, America Saves heard back from those 300,000 people and learned that over 158 million dollars was deposited into savings during the week. Keep in mind, all those impressive numbers from last year were in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic!
Building Resilience Through Saving
Last year, the top savings goal was emergency savings. That’s not too surprising, given the year we had. This year, as the pandemic is hopefully winding down, we’re looking to do even more. So, this year, America Saves has a theme in mind, and that’s “saving to build resilience”.
The pandemic taught us all that we could always be better prepared for the unexpected. By saving money for emergencies, we’ll be ready for anything that might come along.
Emergency savings is usually thought of as a way to protect against job loss or other loss of income. Since it could take months to find another job, you should try to save up a few months’ income to get you through a period of unemployment.
But even if you can’t save up months’ worth of income, any amount you save will help. Statistically, families who have even a few hundred dollars in the bank are less likely to be evicted or miss bill payments after a crisis.
Generally, saving means not being reliant on credit card debt, so you’re not instantly facing collection agents if you have a financial hardship.
Having savings is important for any unexpected expenses, such as car repairs, home repairs, and medical emergencies.
It’s also important to protect your long-term savings. If you are forced to raid your retirement fund to get by, you’re sacrificing your future financial security. If you save a nest egg for short-term emergencies, you can keep those long-term savings intact.
Saving for Opportunities
Emergencies aren’t the only savings goals that are important. An important reason to save is to be ready to take advantage of opportunities.
Maybe you have a chance to attend a concert at the last minute. A savings fund means you don’t have to put those tickets on a credit card. If a friend or family member is getting married, but you have to pay to get to the wedding, you’ll be glad if you have some savings built up for travel expenses.
Whatever comes along, have a plan to save up just a little extra, so you’re ready for the good or the not-so-good things that might pop up.
Start With Confidence
If you have zero dollars in the bank, don’t worry! Everyone has to start somewhere. There’s no minimum amount you have to save, and it’s never too late to start. Establish a savings fund if you don’t have one, and get started during America Saves Week.
Believe us, you are not alone. A recent survey found that 25% of Americans had no emergency savings, and many Americans don’t have enough money in savings to cover an unexpected $1,000 expense.
The point is, if you have little or no savings, that’s normal. You have nothing to feel bad about. But we can all do better and start saving at any time.
Each day of America Saves Week has a Theme.
Because we know how tough it is to set aside a portion of your income, we have always recommended automatic savings. If your money goes straight to savings, you’ll be less likely to miss it.
- Set up a direct deposit with your employer—split your paycheck so that your savings never gets to your checking account at all. Have the portion you’re saving go straight into a separate savings account.
- You might already be contributing to a retirement account, but if not, this is a “must do today”.
- It’s a lot easier to spend your money than to save it, so you have to use every trick you can to set aside money for your goals. Apps like Acorns or Qapital encourage users to save money or invest, by rounding up each debit or credit transaction to the nearest dollar and investing or saving the round-up.
It’s tricky to set a goal to save for the unexpected. You don’t know what emergencies are going to come along, you don’t know when they’re coming, and you don’t know how much they’re going to cost. Still, setting a goal to save for emergencies is very important, and that’s why America Saves Week has a whole day dedicated to it.
After the past few years, everyone should understand why it’s so important to save for emergencies. But the COVID pandemic might be a once-in-a-generation event, and there are lots of other expenses that come up that might qualify as emergencies.
To create an emergency fund, the best way to start is the theme of day 2 of America Saves Week.
This might be the most important savings goal most of us have, but too many people haven’t saved enough. Intuitively, people care more about what’s right in front of them than what is far away. Today’s concerns are near, while retirement is far. That makes it hard for people to prioritize retirement saving like they should.
We advocate homeownership as a way to have a stable retirement. If you manage to pay off your home by the time you retire, your rent or house payment will be freed up for other expenses. You’ll still have taxes and insurance, but the bulk of your housing expenses will be covered.
See if your employer offers any kind of retirement plan, and if they match your contributions. Start putting something toward your retirement now, because someday you’ll be glad you did.
Debt repayment really drains your finances. There are so many extra costs to debt that most people don’t realize just how much it’s impacting their pocketbook. When you pay off credit card debts, you don’t just pay off the purchases you made, you avoid years of future interest charges, and that frees up money for important savings goals.
On the one hand, it’s America Saves Week, and we want you to start saving. But we’re also telling you to save by paying off debt. So how do you balance the two? Should you save, or put all your extra money toward debts?
- First and foremost, we want you to establish an emergency fund and start depositing money, no matter what your debt situation.
- Secondly, seek credit counseling with a Financial Coach to see if a Debt Management Plan might be right for you. A Financial Coach will create a personalized budget and review debt management as a way to reduce your monthly payments so you can work toward financial freedom from credit card debt.
A big reason people don’t save is that they never formed the habit. It’s hard to form new positive habits later in life, which is why we keep saying you have to start saving something, no matter how small, just to get into the habit.
With your kids, you have an opportunity to help them develop the habit while they’re still young. They learn by watching you, so be a good role model and show them how to handle money responsibly.
That means when you take your kids to the bank with you, or when you go shopping, take a moment to explain to them how you’re paying for your purchases, where the money comes from, and how much work it takes to earn the money you’re spending.
Some kids think a credit card is an unlimited source of money, and they don’t understand you can’t just buy everything you want. Help them understand that using a credit card means you’re taking out a loan, and you’ll have to pay it back with interest.
There are lots of reasons to save, and yours can be whatever you want it to be. The important thing is to get started. Start small, think big. We think saving automatically and focusing on paying off debt is the way to go, but more than anything, we want people to start to get into the habit of saving.