Program Focuses on Saving Strategies
Program Focuses on Saving Strategies
March 1, 2007
Las Cruces Sun-News
LAS CRUCES — Do you have wads of cash shoved beneath your mattress and perhaps shiny pennies stowed away in a jar?
Well, this is as good a week as any to take steps toward a more secure financial future. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants have deemed this week as "America Saves Week."
Zoie Scott, 10, is a fifth-grader at Central Elementary School in Las Cruces. She has a word of advice for those who do not make a concerted effort to save their money.
"It's easy and it's fun," she said. Zoie, like many elementary school students in Las Cruces, has her own savings account through First Community Bank. The bank has teller windows at 13 schools in the Las Cruces school district.
"I'm going to save up money for college," Scott said.
Gina Portugal, 10, works as a "bank teller" at Central Elementary. Students who have accounts can deposit money every Thursday. She said it is not a good idea to just put money in a piggy bank or under a mattress.
"It's better to save your money in a bank," she said.
Still, it appears that not everyone has caught on to the idea. The Associated Press reports that the nation's savings rate has fallen to the lowest level since the Great Depression.
Karen Bailey, a vice president with First Community Bank who was instrumental in starting the student program in the 1990s, said that it is obvious many people shy away from saving.
"It's become less popular and that's really a shame," she said. "Learning to save is like learning to play a sport or a musical instrument. It takes practice, practice, practice."
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants wants people to know that they can save money, reduce debt and build wealth.
"The primary focus of America Saves Week is to encourage financial action and a commitment to save, invest and build wealth," said Sean Hughes, media relations counsel to the AICPA, in a news release.
Opening up a savings account or starting a 401(k) is just one step people can take to save money. The Consumer Federation of America reports that taking even small steps can lead to saving money. For instance, if you cut your consumption of soda by a liter a week, you can save $6 a month, or $72 a year. If you bring lunch to work instead of eating out, you can save $3 a day, or $720 a year.
If you pay credit card bills on time to avoid late fees, you can save $300 a year.
Bailey said you would be surprised how much money leaves your pockets for "little things."
"Write down everything you are spending money on," she said. "Do that for a month and you'll get a better idea of where you can cut back."
The AICPA and the Ad Council have started a public service campaign called Feed the Pig. At www.feedthepig.org, there are free tools such as calculators, articles and an interactive feature that will allow people to ask a CPA a specific question.
The Consumer Federation of America said it wants to convince families "you don't have to be rich to build wealth." The campaign's Web site at www.americasaves.org has strategies to build an emergency fund, buy a car or accumulate the down payment for a home.
As for the elementary school students, they are learning to save while they are young with the hope that the practice will carry over into adulthood.
"We tell them to save for something small; maybe they are saving for skates or a bike," Bailey said. "They can see the actual benefits from saving money and that will, hopefully, stick with them."
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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