America Saves Blog
Tips, advice, and the latest news from the savings world.
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.
By: Elaine Genevro, Senior Vice President and Regional Executive, Union Bank, N.A.
If you’re like most people, when you get your paycheck you make a habit of paying your bills. But financially savvy consumers have learned that the first bill that they should pay is to themselves. By “paying yourself first” you set aside money from your paycheck into a savings account before you begin paying monthly living expenses and making discretionary purchases.
Why Should I Pay Myself First?
Financial advisors agree that saving should be a part of every budget; unfortunately many of us aren’t prepared for financial emergencies or long-term goals such as retirement. When you get into the habit of paying yourself first, you are putting your future financial security at the top of your priority list, and are less likely to spend your hard-earned money on items that are less important. Paying yourself first can be a very effective way of ensuring that you continue to make your budgeted contributions regularly.
How to Save
Every year, on the first Monday in September, the Department of Labor honors the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. Tomorrow, Secretary Hilda Solis -- "America's Job Counselor" -- will host a live Twitter chat at 2 p.m. EDT, Thursday, August 30.
This is a great opportunity, especially for high school and college students, to ask questions and receive information on entering the workforce, finding job training programs, and identifying up-and-coming careers.
Join the conversation by using the hashtag #LaborDay2012 or tweet questions in advance to @HildaSolisDOL.
Did You Know?
Over the next five weeks, the America Saves blog will feature articles and guest blogs on the topic of youth savings. America Saves, along with our 52 local campaigns will be featuring information on how to teaching youth to save.
Financial habits are learned at a very young age. These days, people are increasingly forced to pay greater attention to personal finance and are discovering that they are unprepared to handle their own finances, let alone educate their children. While many parents are seeking more information to better their own financial situation, they often forget or are not confident enough to pass on the lessons they are learning. This needs to change. Remember that it’s never too late to start talking with your kids about finances
If you would like to join the conversation about youth savings, download our latest resource packet. The resource packet contains:
- A sample article
- Social media content
- Tools and resources
We have designed the packet to help you communicate with the public, your audience, and your friends, to help them save for a arge purchase. Look for new packets from America Saves every six weeks.