Conference Speaker Encourages North Carolinians to Save for their Futures
Conference Speaker Encourages North
Carolinians to Save for their Futures
September 27, 2005, Tuesday
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Winston-Salem Journal (North Carolina)
Winston-Salem Journal (North Carolina)
Barbara Johnson doesn't claim to be an expert on household finances.
But Johnson, a Winston-Salem resident, hopes her been-there-and-done-that experiences will encourage more North Carolinians to save for their future.
Johnson serves as a featured speaker today during the inaugural Financial Literacy and Asset Building conference held by the N.C. Treasury Department in Chapel Hill.
"We're such a society of consumers over savers that many of us have to be taught how to save, including me," Johnson said yesterday.
"But there's such an empowering feeling that comes with saving your money, whether it's for buying something big that you couldn't afford it otherwise or having money set aside for an emergency."
Just five years ago, saving money seemed like a pipe dream for Johnson, her husband, Lesley, and their five children considering they were living paycheck-to-paycheck.
As the family grew, so did their need for a larger home. The trouble was they didn't have any money set aside for a down payment.
"We kept going around in circles trying to get a loan until we came upon Experiment in Self-Reliance and a savings program called an Individual Development Account," Johnson said.
Johnson said that up to $ 8,000 in grant money could be provided to a participant who saves at least $ 1,000 through the program.
"It was the first time we had ever been taught how to save, how to set up a family budget and stick to it," Johnson said. "We were able to set aside money and direct deposit the money into the account.
"It wasn't easy, but over time, we came up with the $ 1,000 and received the grant money. Now, we're living in a four-bedroom home, and I'm participating in a 401(k) plan at work."
Johnson became so encouraged by Experiment in Self-Reliance that she went to work there in 2003 as a program director for the Individual Development Accounts.
She also has become a spokeswoman for America Saves. The program helps individuals and families to pay down debt, build an emergency fund, and save for a home, college education or retirement. Financial institutions participate by offering savings accounts with no fees and no minimum balance.
"Mainly what I tell people is that you have to choose to save," Johnson said.
Johnson will help launch North Carolina Saves today with Richard Moore, the state's treasurer.
North Carolina Saves already has about 1,000 participants through pilot programs such as Forsyth County Saves, which operates at the Experiment in Self-Reliance office in Winston-Salem. Forsyth County Saves has nearly 700 participants -- the most of any chapter.
Moore said that the timing for launching North Carolina Saves "could not be better."
"With the national rate of personal savings now below zero, and rapidly rising energy costs, responsible financial management among North Carolina families is more important than ever," Moore said.
"When we make smart decisions about money, we strengthen the overall economy of our state."
For information about Experiment in Self-Reliance and the Forsyth County Saves chapter, call 722-9400. For information about North Carolina Saves, go to www.nctreasurer.com and click on North Carolina Saves to obtain an enrollment form.
Primary Press Contact
The Consumer Federation of America
Attn: America Saves Campaign
1620 Eye St NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20006
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