Organization Hopes to get Hokies into Saving
Organization Hopes to get Hokies into Saving
VT Saves held an event on the Drillfield on Monday, advertising the new program and encouraging students to save money.
Headed by Irene Leech, Associate Professor of Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management, VT Saves is a part of the America Saves program, which is a social marketing campaign with the goal of helping the Virginia Tech community get in the habit of saving regularly.
Nancy Register is the associate director of the Consumer Federation as well as the national director of America Saves.
"America Saves is a national social marketing campaign that is coordinated by the Consumer Federation of America. Its goal is to encourage everyone, but particularly lower to moderate incomes households to save money," Register said. "What the campaign wants to do is to build a savings community so that people take financial action to save money, reduce debt and build wealth."
This program pertains to college students, because it can help offset any challenges posed by tuition increases, family tragedies, or unexpected medical costs. George Barany is the director of Financial Education and Youth Saves.
"For college students in particular, establishing some savings habits is important. We understand that it's difficult for students to save money, because you have so many expenses. But even a small amount could be deposited on a monthly basis to develop a habit with some savings accumulation for emergencies," Barany said.
Based on studies, about 50 percent of graduating college seniors have four or more credit cards with anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000 dollars of consumer debt, besides loans. America Saves believes that most important is getting in the habit of saving, from the day students get their first job, through the pattern of furnishing their apartments and other things that make debt grow larger.
The first America Saves program was launched in March 2001, in Cleveland, Ohio. Since then, 52 campaigns in different communities around the country have been launched, promoting savings of all kind for everyone involved.
The VT Saves program is one of four on college campuses. The others include Howard University in Washington, D.C., Wiley College in Texas and the University of California Santa Barbara. Last year, Kansas State University and Utah State attempted pilot programs.
VT Saves recommends opening or adding to a savings account or taking advantage of savings opportunity that an employer may offer. Every individual, especially in times of a recession, should have an emergency fund that can be a safety net for other emergencies that enables you to spend money on expenses you may not have thought of.
America Saves week, Register said, couldn't come at a better time.
"America Saves week is an annual opportunity for everyone to take a look at their savings, assess the status of it, figure out what could be done differently, if anything, and find resources you need to help make changes that you want to make, and then take financial action," Register said. "America Saves is all about financial action, you must be informed, motivated, and there has to be opportunity to increase or begin savings behavior."
In honor of America Saves week, VT Saves will hold numerous events around campus. On Monday, representatives from VT Saves, including coordinator Matt Jones, held a display on the Drillfield advertising to students to begin saving. Events will be held throughout the week, and attendance at any of them along with signing up as a saver by noon on Thursday puts the student in the drawing for a Nintendo Wii on Thursday at 4 p.m. in the Wallace Hall Atrium.
Students may find more information today in Squires' info booth next to the Au Bon Pain kiosk from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and in Wallace from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
"It was very cold, but we fought through the wind as we were just trying to build awareness for VT Saves. This is the second year we've done the project," Jones said. " Last year, we had our kick-off event on the Drillfield, and we set up some tables in Wallace Hall and told students about VT Saves and gave them a way to open a savings account and other ways to save. The difference between this year and last is we're organized a lot better. We have many students that are participating and helping us advertise the program. We had over 15 students on the Drillfield all day and we had several people break dancing, along with SunTrust and Bank of America representatives who provided small giveaways, and other small drawings."
Jones works with SunTrust and Bank of America to try and find a better interest rate on savings accounts for students who sign up as savers through VT Saves. He also stressed the importance of saving, even if you don't that you don't make enough money or need to think about saving just yet.
"We try to work with the banks to get a better savings account for the students. Last year we were able to get a percentage better than the annual savings percent(age rate). I've heard a lot from students that they don't really see the importance of saving," Jones said. "Even if you plan to save for going out on the weekends, or going out, but as long as you know where your money is going and what percentage that you're actually using that is benefiting you and not throwing your money away."
The program desires to build awareness for not only this week, but to gain momentum into next year. The main goal is to try and stop students and ask them to set financial goals and get them to enroll as a VT Saver, and let them know the benefits of saving. They believe that if students have the financial education in college, the will be more well off as far as being successful financial planners into the future.
"The time to save is now," Leech said. "See for yourself how easy it is to start saving toward a brighter future by attending our events."
"The sooner you start figuring out how to manage your finances, the better off you are. Everyone has a story of how their parents or grandparents helped them save," Register said. "Financial education in high school and getting into the habit of saving at lower levels is something that's been on the table for a very long time. That's really what we're trying to do here."
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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