America Saves Blog
Tips, advice, and the latest news from the savings world.
April 4, 2012
By Katie Bryan, America Saves communications manager
This story is part of the Spring 2012 American Saver Newsletter
Kisha Barns’s financial situation was undisciplined, unrestricted, and impulsive before she came into contact with her local America Saves campaign, Charlotte Saves. Originally, Barns had no savings and only had enough money to live paycheck to paycheck, which she described as “very uncomfortable and stressful.” Through seminars provided by Charlotte Saves, Barns learned that she was operating without a budget, that most of her spending was done sporadically, and that the small things she spent money on really added up.
Charlotte Saves helped Barns track her spending better by writing down all the things she bought. Through this tracking Barns realized she paid a $50 late fee for something every month. “I quickly realized I could be saving this $50 towards my son’s college, a new car, or most importantly an emergency fund,” said Barns.
Charlotte Saves helped Barns to be honest with herself as well as the creditors she was working with. Barns cut her spending and set up payment plans to cover her bills. Barns even got her son involved in saving. By saving together they were able to bond and spend quality time together -- all while saving. “It’s liberating to know I have a safety net if anything were to happen,” said Barns “and that I built that safety net with my own savings.”
Barns is working towards finishing school and doesn’t want to end up with a lot of debt, so she’s made paying for school and becoming a homeowner her saving priorities. Without Charlotte Saves, Barns didn’t think she’d have her current goals or the knowledge to save efficiently to reach them. When Barns first started saving she added $25 per week towards her savings account. Today she is up to around $50 per week. “It was an adjustment,” said Barns. But when she saw the changes even just after 2 months she realized what a difference saving had made.
March 30, 2012
Key Financial Steps for College Seniors and Young Workers
Webcast – April 18, 2012
4:00 pm to 5:15pm EDT
Managing your finances can seem challenging when you are finishing up college or just starting out. In this webcast, you will learn the five steps to get off to a good financial start - how to create a budget, repay your student loans, think like a saver and stay out of debt, invest for the future, and make the most of employee benefits from your job.
The U.S. Department of Labor will be joined by speakers from the Consumer Federation of America/America Saves, the National Endowment for Financial Education, and the Society for Financial Education and Professional Development. We’ll help you get started with information to achieve your financial goals, whether short-term, like paying off credit card debt and student loans, or saving for a long-term goal, such as retirement. By getting a good financial start, you can get time on your side so you can do the things you want to do in the future.
March 29, 2012
by Philip Taylor
You would expect advice on barriers to saving to center around things that are preventing us from saving money and how to remove those barriers from our lives. But I want to flip this concept on its head, and suggest that there may be barriers that you can use that will actually encourage you to save more money in the long run.
After I landed my first job out of college I decided I wanted to save up money for an emergency fund. I also tried to start saving for a down payment on a new car. My strategy was to spend 90% of my paycheck and leave 10% in my checking account until the end of the month. At which time I would transfer the money to a savings account attached directly to my checking account.
This was certainly a good idea in theory. But I always found it hard to reach my savings goals and maintain an emergency fund. Why? Well, truthfully, I screwed it up. Inevitably, the next month I would always find a reason to spend that "savings" in the attached savings account. This was mostly impulse spending. Getting the money back was as easy as doing an instant transfer back to my checking account. In a matter of minutes, I would have my money back in my checking account, which was quickly accessed using my debit card.
Then I discovered a few self-imposed barriers that would make it more difficult for me to take money from my savings. Let's look at how they each work:
March 28, 2012
Consumer Federation of America, the parent company of America Saves, partnered with the U.S. Department of Treasury yesterday on the new Ready. Save. Grow. initiative. With millions of people indicating they need a safe and convenient way to save money for their long-term financial goals, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced, Ready.Save.Grow., which will provide people with information and access to affordable, safe and convenient Treasury savings options that can help people take control of their future.
March 27, 2012
By Katie Bryan, America Saves communications manager
Today America Saves joins over 130 bloggers in the #RothIRAMovement. Our friend Jeff Ross at Good Financial Cents organized this little event after he gave some tips on saving at his alma mater and found that not one person had heard of the Roth IRA.
Saving for retirement was #4 on the 2011 list of Top America Saves Saver Goals. Many Americans can save for retirement through an employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k) plan. Unfortunately, many do not have access to these types of accounts.
The good news is even if your employer doesn’t offer a retirement plan, you can still save for retirement, and get some tax benefits in the process, by putting money in an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).
Who qualifies to make IRA contributions?
Anyone who earns income (or receives alimony) can put money in an IRA. Couples can also put money in an IRA for a non-working spouse.
Each person can put up to $5,000 in an IRA if you are age 49 or below and up to $6,000 if you are age 50 or above for the 2011 tax year, so long as your contributions do not exceed your earned income. Each year, you have until the April 15 tax filing deadline to make your IRA payment for the previous tax year. (This means you still have time to contribute!)
There are two main types of IRA – traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs. In addition, those who are self-employed can put money in a SEP-IRA. Each has its own set of rules and offers different tax benefits.
ROTH IRAs Offer Tax-Free Withdrawals