America Saves Blog
Tips, advice, and the latest news from the savings world.
Helping Americans Get on Track to a More Secure Financial Future
December 14, 2011
The following is an excerpt from remarks by Ronald P. O’Hanley, President, Asset Management and Corporate Services, Fidelity Investments, who spoke at the National Forum to Encourage Lower-Income Household Savings in October.
American workers are facing challenges on all fronts – a persistently weak jobs market, declining housing prices, rising food and health care costs, $3.50 per gallon gas, and the daunting challenge of making ends meet today while saving for tomorrow. Even more disturbing is that one-third of all American households have no retirement savings beyond Social Security.
The weak economy and volatile financial markets have left many Americans unsure how to address their financial goals. Many have lost confidence in their ability to save. They feel overwhelmed by the challenge – so they don’t even try. We need to help Americans navigate their way through these difficult times and get them on track to a more secure financial future.
December 13, 2011
By Katie Bryan, America Saves Communications Manager
Until last summer, Michael Lindman spent money freely. “I was a union truck driver for 35 years and had a good income,” said Lindman. “I owned my own home, saved a little, and tried to live within my own budget. You always think there’s going to be that much coming in, but things can change in a split second.”
The change for Michael began when he was laid off. Luckily Michael had three months’ salary saved for just this kind of emergency. In July, however, disaster struck. Michael was hospitalized for surgery, then complications required a second surgery. With his savings depleted, he couldn’t pay his medical expenses, mortgage, or other bills. In addition, he couldn’t work while he was recovering.
December 9, 2011
By Katie Savant, Government Relations Deputy Director, National Military Family Association
When families think about holiday shopping, a budget may go out the window. Take some time to do a bit of pre-planning before you venture out to the mall, or you may be left with retail regret! Here are some tips to help keep you on track.
- Create a budget and stick to it. Sit down with your family and discuss your holiday festivities and gift giving wishes. Try using a holiday checklist, such as a free online template, to help you track your expenditures.
- Plan for holiday parties. Is there a gift exchange? Will you bring a dish to share? Think ahead of time about costs associated with holiday parties and include these in your budget.
- Watch for hidden costs. Do you need to ship gifts? Are you mailing holiday cards? Will you purchase household decorations or wrapping supplies? Will you make any special meals?
- Little gifts add up. Many people like to remember co-workers, teachers, service personnel, and others during their end-of-year gift giving. Handwritten thank you notes and homemade gifts are appreciated. Don't feel pressured to buy gifts you cannot afford.
December 8, 2011
By Ron Heller, Senior Vice President and Regional Executive, Union Bank, N.A.
Supporting charitable organizations that we are passionate about can provide us with a sense of purpose and meaning while contributing to the well being of our communities. It can also offer some financial benefits in the form of tax deductions. While a tax deduction may not be your main motivation for making a donation to your favorite charity, most financial advisors agree that you should take advantage of the tax break.
Here are some tips to guide you through end-of-year charitable giving:
Do You Qualify?
Only taxpayers who itemize their deductions can claim deductions for charitable contributions. A taxpayer will see a tax savings only if the total itemized deductions (such as mortgage interest, charitable contributions, state and local taxes, etc.) exceed the standard deduction. If you choose the standard deduction and file a short form (Form 1040A or 1040EZ), you may not write off charitable gifts.
Does the Charity Qualify?
Make sure your donations are made to an organization qualified to receive deductible contributions. Non-profit groups include eligible religious, educational and charitable groups. These groups are often referred to as 501(c)(3) organizations. Foreign charities and political organizations are generally not qualified for tax write-offs. Visit the IRS website (www.irs.gov) for a listing of qualified organizations.
December 5, 2011
Without a budget, holiday spending can get out of control. A few unplanned gift purchases and a last minute plan to visit relatives for the holiday can add up fast.
Take the guessing out of how much you will spend this holiday season with ClearPoint’s Holiday Planning Tool. This innovative tool suggests a holiday spending budget for you based on your annual salary. You can then use their tool to break down your holiday spending over several categories including gifts, parties, travel, food, and donations.
I really like this tool because it takes into account more than just the gifts you will buy this holiday. Many people throw a holiday party or have to drive or fly to visit family and forget to budget for these items in their holiday spending plan.
This is a great tool for this holiday season and can help you get a jump on saving for next holiday season as well.