America Saves Blog
Tips, advice, and the latest news from the savings world.
By Maliz Beams, CEO INGU.S. Retirement
If you’re like most people today, you and your family face a number of significant financial obligations — food and household expenses, credit card payments, healthcare costs and college tuition bills, just to name a few. With so many competing priorities in our lives, it can be easy to lose sight of another major financial commitment down the road — your retirement.
To make matters more challenging, the responsibility of funding retirement is ours more than ever before. No matter what stage in your career, developing a holistic approach to planning and saving — both in and out of the workplace — and seeking advice, education and guidance are critical to reaching one’s retirement goals.
An ING Retirement Research Institute study found that many Americans are taking steps to reach a more positive financial future — well over half (57%) acknowledged that saving for retirement is their most important long-term financial goal and nearly three-quarters (72%) confirmed they were receiving the full employer match in their workplace retirement plan. This is good news!
But we need to be doing much more. Our research also showed that a top concern for more than three-quarters (77%) of retirement plan investors is their financial security once they leave the workforce. By taking steps early on that help you save easily and automatically, you can be in a better position to retire with the financial security you expect and deserve. Here are a few things to consider:
Live the America Saves Theme
February 24, 2012
By Joseph Montanaro, USAA Certified Financial Planner® Practitioner
The 2012 America Saves Campaign kicks off with America Saves Week Feb. 19-26. I often tell folks I’m living the dream, but now’s the time for you to focus on living the theme -- the 2012 campaign theme for America Saves. This year’s theme is “Set a Goal, Make a Plan, Save Automatically.” Here’s how you can do it:
Set a Goal. Whether you’re focusing on eliminating debt, building an emergency fund, or setting aside money for longer term goals like retirement, you need goals. A goal isn’t a vague idea -- it’s a specific statement of what you will accomplish. It should come with a date and a price tag. For example, “we’ll build a $1,000 emergency fund by December 1, 2012” or “by the end of the year we’ll eliminate $3,000 of our credit card debt.” Set it, but don’t forget it. Instead…
Make a Plan. Don’t over think this part. As a financial planner, I’ve designed thousands of detailed plans with clients. Some have been comprehensive plans that mapped out everything from tax strategies and portfolio weightings to complex estate planning techniques. Others were much less involved. And while a complex approach may be necessary if you’re on the verge of a life event like military retirement or separation, many times it just doesn’t need to be that complicated. Following through on our examples from above, it might just be setting up an allotment for $50 per paycheck into a new savings account that allows you to begin building your emergency fund. For debt elimination, you could identify specific expenses you’ll cut or windfalls (tax return) that will go towards eliminating debt. This simple step will put you on the path to eliminating that debt throughout the year.
Save Automatically. This is easy. Most employer plans like a 401(k) or 403(b) offer a great way to systematically set aside money for retirement, but surprisingly, only about 40 percent of those under 24 -- those who can use a big ally, time, in their race to retirement -- take advantage of this type of program. Even if you only start with one percent of your pay and bump it up with every pay raise or promotion, you’ll be on your way to what could be hundreds of thousands of reasons to save. If your employer offers a Roth version of its retirement plan consider that as a tool that offers the potential to build tax-free retirement savings. No retirement plan at work? Thousands of banks or mutual fund companies will help you set up an automatic investment plan into an IRA or Roth IRA. Are you in the savings game? If not, get set up now. If you are, consider increasing your contribution.
The first step is the hardest. Visit www.americasaves.org/join and take The Saver Pledge: “I will help myself by saving money, reducing debt, and building wealth over time. I will help my family and my country by encouraging other Americans to Build Wealth, Not Debt.” Live that theme!
This material is for informational purposes and is not investment advice, an indicator of future performance, a solicitation, an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation for any security. It should not be used as a primary basis for making investment decisions. Consider your own financial circumstances and goals carefully before investing.
Investing in securities products involves risk, including possible loss of principal.
USAA or its affiliates do not provide tax advice. Taxpayers should seek advice based upon their own particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.
Examples given are hypothetical illustrations and not necessarily an indication of the benefits or features of any USAA product.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. owns the certification marks CFP® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ in the United States, which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.
February 23, 2012
By Katie Bryan, America Saves communications manager
As part of America Saves Week, America Saves and Experian have released a new resource to help people understand the importance of their credit history and how this ties into successful saving.
Good credit plays an important role in your financial life. Not only is it essential for obvious things like qualifying for a loan or getting a credit card, but also for less obvious things like getting cellular telephone service, renting a car, and perhaps even getting a job.
Managing your credit will also help you save for a rainy day. A strong credit history, reflected in good credit scores, will let you qualify for lower interest rates and fees, freeing up additional money to set aside for emergencies, retirement, and other smaller unexpected expenses. Decreasing debt and increasing savings reduces stress and leads to greater financial freedom.
The packet includes information on:
- What is a Credit Report and Score?
- Why is Saving So Important?
- How do I Start Saving?
- What Savings Options Are Available to Me?
- Why is Good Credit Management so Important?
- 5 Tips for Building Good Credit.
- Frequently Asked Credit Questions.
- FDIC Model Save Accounts.
Today for America Saves Week, download our new credit score information and assess your credit history.
February 22, 2012
By Phyllis C. Borzi, Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration.
In life, there are some simple bits of wisdom that become so familiar many of us risk overlooking them. When it comes to savings, “Set a goal, and then make a plan and stick to it,” is certainly one of them.” I imagine you heard something very similar in early childhood – from a prudent grandparent, perhaps – the moment you earned your first dollar for a day’s chores. In an economy that’s beginning to show encouraging signs of revival, Americans have an opportunity to save more aggressively and so it’s vital that we recall those bits of wisdom about savings again.
As the head of the Employee Benefits Security Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor, I’m responsible for assisting the millions of Americans who are provided retirement benefits (such as 401(k) plans) through their private sector employer. As part of America Saves Week, we are hosting a public forum this weekend in Boston with the Center for Retirement Research at BostonCollege. The forum, “Women and Retirement: What Every Woman Should Know Before It’s Too Late,” is a chance for us to help women understand what they can do now to adequately save for retirement.
While all people are welcome at the forum, we’re focusing on women since statistics show that women heading into retirement are at a distinct savings disadvantage when compared with men. For instance, women are more likely to work in part-time jobs that don't qualify for a retirement plan, and they’re also more likely to interrupt their careers to take care of family members therefore working fewer years and contributing less toward retirement. Also, they tend to live longer than men creating a greater need for their retirement assets to last longer. This forum is an opportunity for women to hear from some of the experts in the field of retirement planning about some of the most important savings decisions they face.
February 21, 2012
By Katie Bryan, America Saves communications manager
Join @AmericaSaves, Philip Taylor of @PTMoney and @SallieMae for a Twitter party tonight full of tips for saving money in honor of America Saves Week 2012. This is a great opportunity to share your financial goals and receive advice from experts and other American Savers.
We are so proud of the community of people that have joined together to make saving a priority and look forward to tweeting with everyone tonight.
Need another reason to join the party tonight? Prizes will be given out including a $500 Apple gift card. (YAY!)
Date: Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Time: 8-9pm EST