America Saves Blog
Tips, advice, and the latest news from the savings world.
December 15, 2011
By Katie Bryan, Communications Manager
Some of the best, and most innovative, tips we get come from you the reader. That’s why for your weekly dose of motivation to Kick Start Your Savings we are sharing your tips. Whether it’s from our American Saver newsletter, on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter page, you are always willing to share your tips to help each other out. Keep it up! Together we can start small to save big.
I make sure every time I get a new prescription to look at the drug company's website. More and more companies offer consumers substantial out of pocket savings. Some have a onetime use coupon, while others offer a yearly discount. I saved 70% in out of pocket payments last year just by looking on the internet! Harvey Kivel, Tucson, AZ
I met a woman in a grocery store parking lot who was driving my dream car. She told me to put every $5 dollar bill I got in a box and said I would be amazed at how much I could accumulate. Not every $5 bill made it to the box, but I never took any out. Recently, I had some additional monthly bills and needed money quickly. I made the decision to use the money saved in my $5 box. I had been saving for about a year and was stunned to find that my box held over $500 dollars! Diane S. McCorkle, Columbus, Ohio
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.