America Saves Blog
Tips, advice, and the latest news from the savings world.
October 17, 2011
By Katie Bryan, America Saves Communication Manager
Last week, Experian released the results of their second-annual State of Credit study.
Compared with last year’s State of Credit assessment, many cities have improved slightly. Five out of 10 of the bottom markets have increased their credit scores and decreased debt since 2010. However, average debt nationwide has only decreased by about 1 percent — it is down about $200 to $24,542.
A low debt-to-credit ratio is an important element of a high credit score. Learn more about how lowering debt can raise your credit score.
Cities with the highest credit scores:
1. Wausau, Wis.: 789
2. Minneapolis, Minn.: 787
3. Madison, Wis.: 785
4. Cedar Rapids, Iowa: 781
5. San Francisco, Calif.: 781
6. Green Bay, Wis.: 780
7. Boston, Mass.: 779
8. Peoria, Ill.: 778
9. Sioux Falls, S.D.: 778
10. La Crosse, Wis.: 777
October 14, 2011
By Katie Bryan, America Saves Communications Manager
Has America Saves inspired you to get out of debt or save more? We are looking for stories from you about how you have gotten out of debt or saved for items like and emergency fund or a home. Many times people feel like they can’t save. By sharing your stories, you can help us inspire others to take financial action.
Send us your story so that we can share it on our blog and with our Facebook and Twitter communities.
We are also always looking for your tips. If we choose your tip for our quarterly newsletter, we will send you a check for $25 – the initial purchase price of a $50 EE Savings Bond – and an application for a $50 EE Savings Bond.
Do you know exactly where all of your money goes each month? Do you know how much money you have left to spend this month? Are you saving towards an emergency fund each month? If you answered -NO - to any of these it may be time to get your finances in order.
The first step to saving more efficiently is to keep track of what you spend and budget. There are many different ways to do this, try a few out and choose the system that works best for you. The key to saving more successfully is to find a system that works for you and to stick with it.
Step One: Keep Track of What you Spend
There are many ways to keep track of what you spend. Growing up, I watched my dad put every receipt into a drawer. At the end of the month he would total up the recipes and items from his check book in order to track his spending for the month. Today, we pay for the items we need in many different ways - we spend cash, credit, debit, and we even auto-pay bills. It’s important to have a system in place to capture all this spending.
Luckily, there are digital tools to help you keep track of your spending. Look for free tools that will group all your spending in one place. (Let us know on our Facebook page how you keep track of your spending) Take a look at a couple months of spending. Total up everything you spent and divide your spending into large categories –housing, food, utilities, entertainment, shopping, savings, and everything else. Click here for a sample budget worksheet.
Step Two: Budget
Now you know where your money is actually going. But is it going where it should? Create a budget that you can stick to. Look at places you can cut back in order to pay down high-interest debt and save. Not sure where your money should be going? Try one of these online calculators:
Ideal Budget – CNN Money
Budgeting Calculator – you can deal with it
Step Three: Stick to your Budget
Putting together a budget is easy; The harder part is sticking to it. The key to this is to go back to step one and keep track of your spending. Each week, check your finances to make sure you are staying within your budget. You can do this by using a cash, or envelope system. You can also keep track with a software program, or you can simply use pen and paper to keep track of your spending.
No matter how you do it, it’s important to find a system that works for you and stick to it.
We would love to hear the system you use to budget and track your spending each month. Let us know on our Facebook page.
October 7, 2011
Guest post for Mainstream Mom
Last week, America Saves, along with the Department of Labor, held a webinar for those new to the work force. The webinar stressed that the best way to save for first time earners is through your employer. But whether you are new to the work force or not, you may be missing a valuable, easy, and automatic way to save.
Did you know?
- Over one-third of all eligible employees do not participate —at all— in their company’s retirement savings plan.
- More than 90% of those who do participate fail to take full advantage of the legal maximum contribution limits.
Participate in a Work Retirement Plan
Many workplaces offer retirement plans to employees. This is a simple way to save because money automatically gets transferred to your retirement account before you get paid. Decide how much you want to contribute each month and your work is done.
October 6, 2011
By Katie Bryan, America Saves Communications Manager
A trend has emerged where more people are moving to the cities. Everyone from young professionals looking for job opportunities to empty nesters looks to downsize their space. In fact over half of the world lives in a city. I know personally that in Washington, DC that means more expensive living costs. One great way that I and others are saving money is by ditching the car and relying on walking, biking, and public transportation.
Google maps shows that it should take about 30 minutes to walk two miles. If you’re fortunate enough to be that close to work, walking is a great option. Walking improves your health, trims your waistline, and can even improve your mood. It’s something everyone knows how to do and it’s free! It can also help you take less sick days and may even save you money on medicines by preventing illness.