Saver Checklist

This checklist is made up of characteristics of successful savers, which include debt management. It can serve as a useful starting point for evaluating one's savings preparedness.

Check off your savings accomplishments to see how you're doing.

Have a financial plan with savings and debt management goals.

Don't rely on financial windfalls from gambling or winning the lottery.

No payday loan, car title loan, or other high-cost debt.

No credit card debt that is increasing.

In addition, no credit card debt or unpaid monthly balances.

Affordable (or no) car and student loan debt payments.

Save a portion of your income.

In addition, save at least 5% of your income.

Have an emergency fund to cover $500 of unexpected expenses.

In addition, have enough in an emergency fund to cover three months of regular expenditures.

At work, contribute regularly to a retirement account.

Outside work, contribute regularly to an account for retirement.

Outside work, make these or other savings deposits automatically.

Own home with affordable (or no) mortgage payments.

Own home and expect to pay off mortgage before retirement.



Your Results

  • 13-15 checks: You are probably a highly successful saver.
  • 10-12 checks: You are probably a good saver.
  • 8-9 checks: You are making saving progress.
  • 6-7 checks: You have the potential to be a good saver.
  • 0-5 checks: You need to think more about how to save successfully.

Here's why each accomplishment is important.

Have a financial plan with savings and debt management goals.

Research shows that those who have a financial plan save twice as much as those who don't.

Don't rely on financial windfalls from gambling or winning the lottery.

The odds of winning from gambling or playing the lottery are stacked against you, and if you become addicted to either, you risk financial disaster.

No payday loan, car title loan, or other high-cost debt.

These high-cost loans typically have interest rates above 100% and often above 300%. If you roll them over from month to month, you could well end up paying more in interest than the amount borrowed.

No credit card debt that is increasing.

Credit card debt is relatively high-cost debt, with interest rates usually between 15% and 30%. And if this debt is accumulating, you may be living beyond your means.

In addition, no credit card debt or unpaid monthly balances.

The best investment most people with large credit card debts can make is to pay off these debts.

Affordable (or no) car and student loan debt payments.

Spending too much on car and or student loan payments is an important reason people don't save effectively.

Save a portion of your income.

Saving a portion of your income, without accumulating credit card or high-cost debts, probably means that you are living within your means, which is essential to good financial health.

In addition, save at least 5% of your income.

Those who save just 5% of an income averaging $50,000 during working years are likely to end up, when they retire, with several hundred thousand dollars of savings. Over long periods of time, the "miracle of interest compounding" can add substantial amounts to your savings deposits.

Have an emergency fund to cover $500 of unexpected expenses.

Some research shows that low-income families with at least $500 in an emergency fund are better off financially than moderate-income families with less than this amount.

In addition, have enough in an emergency fund to cover three months of regular expenditures.

An emergency fund with three months of usual expenditures represents a good insurance policy against being laid off or hit with a huge unexpected expense.

At work, contribute regularly to a retirement account.

The easiest way for many to save is to allow one's employer to contribute some of their paycheck to a 401(k) or other retirement program. If the employer matches any portion of these contributions, the saver is effectively receiving free money.

Outside work, contribute regularly to an account for retirement.

Workplace retirement contributions are often not sufficient to ensure an adequate income in retirement. And many employees don't have access to a workplace retirement program.

Outside work, make these or other savings deposits automatically.

These contributions will be more regular if they are automatic. Ask your bank or credit union to transfer funds each month from a checking account to a savings or investment account.

Own home with affordable (or no) mortgage payments.

Home equity represents the largest source of wealth for low- and middle-income families.

Own home and expect to pay off mortgage before retirement.

Paying off your mortgage before retirement not only reduces your living expenses but also gives you a large financial asset you can sell or borrow on.


Take the Pledge

I pledge to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth over time. I will encourage my family and friends to do the same

Take the America Saves Pledge

Tip of the Day

  • Tip to Save During the Holidays: Decide how much you can spend. http://ow.ly/pX9nu via @Bankrate

Share Your Tip or Story

If we feature you in our Newsletter you get $25.

Share

Saver Stories View all »

Challenging Herself to Save

It all started when Marchale Burton overheard Alabama cooperative extension colleague Isaac Chappelle, coordinator of Alabama Saves, explaining how saving just a little bit – even change – is all it takes to become a saver. “I thought about that,” Burton said, “and wanted to see if it would work.” So, she challenged herself to see how much change she could save.

Read more...

Getting Out of Debt

In 2004, Tonya Shelton was facing financial ruin. Barely making more than minimum wage and having lost her home to an unexpected family crisis, Shelton and her family were forced to live in a rundown hotel.

Read more...

Starting and Continuing a Personal Finance Journey

When Kiara Hardin, now a junior at Western Illinois University, became an intern with the Chicago Summer Business Institute during her sophomore year of high school, she began her personal finance journey. The program required participants to open a savings account.

Read more...

Receive Updates

Sign up for Texts

Read more...

Sign up for Emails

Get Emails

Take the Pledge

Start Saving