America Saves Blog
Tips, advice, and the latest news from the savings world.
September 24, 2012
By Katie Bryan, America Saves Communications Manager
Last week the Consumer Federation of America and Primerica found that two-thirds of middle class Americans acknowledge having made financial mistakes, often costly ones.
The new report also concluded that the financial condition of most middle class families is challenging. For example, in 2010 the typical middle class family had financial assets of $27,300 – including retirement savings but not pensions – which was 28 percent less than the $37,800 held in 2007.
Key findings from an analysis of the survey data included:
- Two-thirds of middle class Americans (67%) said that, in the past, they had made at least one “really bad financial decision,” and nearly half of those questioned (47%) acknowledged that they had made more than one bad decision. The typical (median) cost of these bad decisions was $5,000, but the average cost was $23,000.
September 20, 2012
This content is provided courtesy of USAA.
Cybercriminals never rest — so neither can you. Knowing what to watch out for can help you stay one step ahead of the crooks.
It doesn't matter if it's the Fourth of July or the night before Christmas, cybercriminals don't take vacations. They're always ready to take advantage of the slightest lapse in your diligence to load your computer with viruses and other malware.
Each year, scammers devise new schemes — and rely on their tried-and-true tactics — to steal your money and personal information, warns Dave Marcus, director of security research and communications for McAfee Labs, a leading security technology company.
To keep your information safe, always be on the lookout for these six common online scams.
1. Quizzes, Polls and Contests
The promise of something for nothing is a classic ploy of online crooks. One typical scam promises the first 20,000 responders will receive $1,000 gift cards to a popular electronics store if they "Like" the store on Facebook. Clicking the link will take you to a bogus page that asks for numerous personal details, which can be used for identity theft. And, of course, there are no gift cards.
To protect yourself
New Study Finds that Young Adults Can’t Bank on an Inheritance
By: Sean Naron, Administrative and Advocacy Associate, Consumer Federation of America
Born in the fall of 1989, I am considered a member of the “Millennial Generation.” Millennials are often described as possessing an assortment of distinct character traits, the majority of which are not exactly positive. We have been labeled as narcissistic, a generation of multitaskers obsessed with online profiles (or online anything really), and have been dubbed the “instant gratification generation.”
While the jury is still out to how true all these labels are, a new study has shown that one commonly held idea about millennials is very accurate: too many of us hope to rely on our parents for financial support.
A survey conducted by TD Ameritrade (via USA Today) found that 40 percent of teenagers and young adults between the ages of 13-22 believe their parents will leave them a sizeable inheritance.
September 6, 2012
By Katie Bryan, America Saves Communications Manager
USA.gov launched the portal Help for Difficult Financial Times to highlight government resources that can make your life easier during tough times. As part of this effort, they ran a poll asking: What helps you most when money is tight? 5,352 of you responded:
- Savings 44%
- Family 21%
- Credit cards/loans 20%
- Government assistance 15%
Given that only 15 percent of those surveyed said they turn to government assistance in tough times, USA.gov wants to make sure you know about benefits that could help you.
Government assistance comes in different forms—from unemployment checks and food assistance to credit counseling and medical treatment. Here is a list of some of their most popular resources:
By:Debby Hohler, Director, Corporate Communications, Sallie Mae
You understand the value of saving. But what about your children? What’s the best way to encourage them to save—and make it fun at the same time?
For children who aren’t old enough to get an allowance, start with the basics. When they get money for their birthday or a holiday, you can help them understand what money is:
- Give them different coins and see if they can identify each one and its value.
- Get them a piggy bank and praise them when they put money in the bank.
- Keep your own piggy bank to show that you save, too.
- Make a game of going to the store—“How many quarters does this ball cost?”
One way to make things fun is to use Big Start (iPhone) (Android), a free downloadable app designed to help children up to age 6 learn about money. It features a read-along e-book and money-related games to entertain and teach. It also includes an interactive "What do you want to be when you grow up" section that lets you upload your child's picture into an avatar of an astronaut, farmer, vet, and other professions.
Some kids like to save all their money; others can't wait to spend it. Here's a trick for helping them see that a give-and-take approach is a winner. Take a paper plate, divide it into thirds, and have your children fill in the pie slices with drawings and pictures from magazines. Ask them:
- What would you like to save for in the future (college, a car, a horse, etc.)?
- Whom do you want to share the money with (e.g., a local charity, disaster relief)?
- What would you like to spend the money on (a toy, a game, etc.)?
Then, take three jars and label them “Save,” “Share,” and “Spend.” Talk with your children about dividing their allowance into each jar. You can also make a bank "passbook" out of a notebook so they can record how much they have saved, shared, and spent.
And don’t forget to reward good saving behavior. If possible, match the amount they put into the jar labeled “savings” — kind of like a family 401(k). Matching the amount shows your commitment to your children’s future and provides an opportunity to discuss saving versus investing.
Can’t match the savings? Try non-monetary rewards—toys, stickers, trips to favorite places—to reward good saving behavior. The key is active participation and providing positive feedback whenever possible.
The save/share/spend strategy that’s outlined in Big Start (iPhone) (Android), can also work for older children. But here the motivations for saving are more complex and the opportunities to grow the money are more plentiful.
- Encourage working children to “pay themselves first” so a set percentage of each paycheck goes to savings.
- Remind older children that cars, computers, and electronic devices occasionally need to be repaired—and that saving can prepare you for unexpected expenses.
- Explain how stocks and mutual funds work and help older teens manage a small investment portfolio.
- If your children are going to college, let them know how much of the cost you’ll expect them to pay from their savings.
By laying the groundwork for saving early, you can provide your children with a positive, life-long habit — one that can put them on the right path to a rewarding financial future.