Goal: Building Wealth, Not Debt
Goal: Building Wealth, Not Debt
September 22, 2003
The Anniston Star
by Jessica Centers
Stop living paycheck to paycheck.
Get bill collectors off your back.
Pay off your credit cards.
Spend less. Save more.
Such advice is always easier dispensed than taken, but those in Calhoun County now have an extra advantage when it comes to eliminating debt.
Through the Calhoun County Saves program, residents willing to set a savings goal and work toward it will have a support system of consultants and motivators at their disposal. The financial education/assistance program, sponsored by the Calhoun County Extension System office and local financial institutions, is designed to help individuals with low to moderate incomes build wealth, not debt.
The program is a spin-off of the national America Saves campaign and is the first of its kind in Alabama, organizers said.
Local attorney and program co-chair, Cleo Thomas, said the program is one of the building blocks in the community’s effort to help people become more self-sufficient, like Habitat for Humanity’s efforts to prepare people for the responsibility that comes with home ownership.
Thomas said the program will promote the kind of thrift and behavior necessary to achieve the most cherished of American goals — home ownership and financial independence.
People have to learn — and be taught — how to save, he said.
"Spending is much more natural than saving," he said. "Marketing promotes spending. Everywhere you turn there is something that seeks to separate you from your money. This is a counterbalance to that."
County extension agent Isaac Chappell Jr. said enrolled savers can set a goal for home ownership, school tuition, retirement, debt payment — anything they need to reach their financial goals. Benefits include an initial telephone consultation with a certified financial planner, free seminars, a coach to help them stay on target, access to a 24-hour money line and a quarterly newsletter with savings tips. The four participating banks will also offer incentives for savers, such as reduced minimum balances.
Chappell is recruiting volunteer coaches and motivational speakers, and they don’t need to be financial experts.
Calhoun County Saves will conduct seminars at the request of any church, school, business, community center or other interested organization.
Local sponsors Alabama Power Company, AmSouth Bank, Colonial Bank, Farmers and Merchants Bank, Soultia Inc., and SouthTrust Bank contributed $8,350 to fund the program, and the Consumer Federation of America donated an additional $1,000.
Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce President and program co-chair, Sherri Sumners said teaching and promoting saving is important for the long-term future of families in this community.
"We’re all aware that the baby boomers are getting older," she said. "Strains placed on the system are going to get more difficult as time goes on."
Debt is already becoming a local and national concern.
Last year, Alabama — in line with a national trend — experienced a record number of personal bankruptcy filings.
AmSouth Bank Community Development Officer Judy Gooden said Calhoun County Saves is positive for banks because it will give them the opportunity to build long-term relationships with segments of the community that have not been exposed to financial institutions before.
She said once those families decide to start saving, the cycle of building wealth rather than debt is often carried over into future generations.
The Calhoun County Saves kick-off will be Sept. 30, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Anniston City Meeting Center, room B. Respond by calling the Calhoun County Extension Office at 237-1621.
Primary Press Contact
The Consumer Federation of America
Attn: America Saves Campaign
1620 Eye St NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20006
- Holly Petraeus on Military Saves Week
- Tax Saving Tips and Savings Bonds
- Cindy Hounsell on Why Women Need to Save More for Retirement
- Asst. Sec.of Labor Borzi endorses America Saves
Kojuan Almond from the SSA on America Saves