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Tips, advice, and the latest news from the savings world.

Annual Credit Score Knowledge Survey Reveals Considerable Improvement and Costly Misunderstandings

Written by Super User · 15 May 2012

May 15, 2012

By Katie Bryan, America Saves communications manager

 

A study yesterday by the Consumer Federation of America and VantageScore Solutions found that over the past year, consumer knowledge about credit scores improved significantly, including awareness of who collects information on which most scores are based, the importance of checking this information, what good scores are, how to raise them, and what service providers use these scores.

The study also found that most consumers still do not know how costly low scores can be, when multiple inquiries hurt their scores, and the risks of purchasing credit repair services.

Despite recent improvements in their knowledge about credit reports and scores, most consumers still lack important knowledge:

 

New Downloadable Resources

Written by Katie Bryan · 11 May 2012

May 11, 2012

America Saves, along with Tennessee Saves, Utah Saves, and Virginia Saves created downloadable one-pagers and posters to use at events and VITA sites.  All of the resources in this section are editable and you can even add your own logo.

Saving for a Summer Getaway

Written by Super User · 08 May 2012

May 8, 2012

By Katie Bryan, America Saves communications manager

Do you have a vacation planned for this Summer? If so, have you already saved for it? With Summer quickly approaching, there is still time to save for a trip. Need some savings motivation? We will show you how to save step by step so that you can afford a weekend getaway by Summer’s end.

Step 1- Figure out your goal & save automatically. If you save $5 a day from now until Independence Day, you can save $280 towards a weekend getaway. Double that and you’ll have over $550 towards your vacation. To make saving easy, have a portion of your paycheck transferred automatically from your checking to savings account for your vacation. You can also set up direct deposit at work and have a portion of your paycheck go directly into savings.

Step 2 – Find ways to cut back for even more savings. Saving $5 or $10 daily seems like a difficult task, but it’s easy when you examine where your money is currently going. Without a budget and savings plan, we all have a tendency to overspend. Here are quick ways to add more to your savings:

Take Me Out to the Ball Game: For Less

Written by Super User · 04 May 2012

May 4, 2012

By Katie Bryan, America Saves communications manager

The high for Washington DC today is close to 90 degrees. Summer has arrived. Tonight, I have plans to go to the ballgame. I can’t control the weather, but I can control how much I spend at tonight’s game. The ideal baseball game for me includes indulging in great food. Our DC ballpark offers fabulous nachos from Hard Times Cafe, burgers and fries from Shake Shack, and chili dogs from the famous Ben’s Chili Bowl. It is so tempting to sample these and other great food, but they come at a steep price. Two of us can easily spend over $25 in food alone at games.

So tonight we bring our own food. Make sure to check the food policy at your local sports stadium. Our ballpark allows for outside food items and one factory-sealed plastic water bottle per person.

In addition to stopping at our local drug store and picking up two large water bottles, we will bring our own hotdogs to the park. We have tried this in the past and it works surprisingly well. Cook up the hotdogs right before you leave home and wrap them in tin foil to keep them warm. Once at the park add any of the free condiments the park has to offer. In addition to ketchup and mustard, our park offers diced onions and BBQ sauce. I like tomatoes and pickles on my hot dog, so I will bring those from home as well. The result – a hot dog your way and a large bottle of water at half the price.

Look for more ways to save at the ball park. Our stadium frequently offers $2 Tuesday tickets and deals for kids.

What are your tips for saving at the ballpark? Let us know on our Facebook page.

How to Create a Budget

Written by Super User · 01 May 2012

May 1, 2012

By Debra Taylor, Senior Vice President and Regional Manager, Union Bank, N.A.

Creating a budget can be a fun, empowering process that can help you crystallize your financial goals and help you stay on track to achieve them.

First, it is important to determine your short- and long-term goals. Short-term goals include taking a special vacation or creating a cash reserve for unexpected expenses. Long-term goals may include building a retirement nest egg, achieving financial freedom and creating wealth to pass on to your heirs. Paying off debt is another important goal to consider.

Next, collect your pay stubs, cash receipts and tax, bank, credit card and investment account statements and record your monthly income and expenses in two separate columns. Your expenses can be categorized as fixed -- unchanging expenses such as car payment and mortgage or rent, and variable -- changing expenses such as groceries, utilities and gasoline. Since your variable expenses differ each month, determine the average cost for each and insert the amount into your expenditures column.

Tally your income and expense columns to determine where you stand financially at the end of the month. Do you have more in your expense column or income column? If your income column exceeds your expense column, consider allocating the extra money toward the priorities you established when setting your goals. These may include reducing debt and saving more.

If your expenses exceed your income, review your spending habits with a critical eye. Determine which items are truly “needs” versus those that may fall under the category of “wants” (entertainment, dining and gifts). Trim the nonessentials until you can create a budget that incorporates your goals without leaving you in the red each month.

Once your budget is complete, consider these tips to help you maintain your goals:

  • Revisit your budget. Don’t hesitate to review your budget monthly to determine if your finances are in line with your financial goals and if you are spending more than anticipated. If so, refine your budget and find new ways to cut costs. Reviewing your budget regularly will create a good habit that will serve you well during better times.
  • Get creative. If you find that you don’t have many “wants” that can be trimmed from your budget, consider getting creative with items that fall under the “needs” category. Consider saving on groceries with coupons, buying generic brands and bargain hunting for discounted necessity items.
  • Be flexible. If your budgeting plan needs reworking, consider using personal finance software specifically designed for budgeting or consulting with a certified public accountant or a trusted financial advisor.

Creating a budget is vital in helping you really understand where you are spending your money and how you can properly manage your finances and plan for the future.

The foregoing article is intended to provide general information about budgeting and is not considered financial or tax advice from Union Bank.  Please consult your financial or tax advisor.

Debra Taylor is a senior vice president and regional manager for Union Bank, N.A.  Union Bank, N.A., is a full-service commercial bank providing an array of financial services to individuals, small businesses, middle-market companies, and major corporations. The bank operates 407 branches in California, Washington, Oregon, Texas, New York and Illinois, as well as two international offices. UnionBanCal Corporation is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd., which is a subsidiary of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. Union Bank is a proud member of the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG, NYSE:MTU), one of the world’s largest financial organizations. Visit www.unionbank.com for more information.

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Tip of the Day

  • Written by Katie Bryan | November 25, 2013

    Tip to #save when shopping: You can #save more than 10% by comparing prices at different stores.

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Taking Steps Toward Financial Fitness

Written by Tammy G. Bruzon | November 7, 2014

Nicky Vasquez learned about Virginia Saves when she attended her first class with Bank On Virginia Beach. The instructor shared how important it was to have a written savings goal, and the entire class joined Virginia Saves as the first step toward financial fitness.

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Saving Early: Key to Successful Future

Written by Katie Bryan | October 28, 2013

For Johnnie Lovett, a Young Illinois Saver, saving has been a habit since he was a teenager. “As a teenager, I was responsible for buying certain things with my allowance,”

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Learning to Save

Written by Katie Bryan | October 28, 2013

Kisha Barns’s financial situation was undisciplined, unrestricted, and impulsive before she came into contact with her local America Saves campaign, Charlotte Saves.

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