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

5 Ways To Teach Kids How To Save At Home

Save as a Family Saving is a Habit
Written by Kia Young · 17 July 2020

We start kids young with almost everything— sports, school, so why not saving? We are always looking for new ways to #ThinkLikeASaver in the America Saves community. The earlier that you have a positive mindset around saving, the easier it is to save successfully as an adult.

Creating a budget for your family

Written by Kia Young · 25 June 2020

It’s always the right time to create a saving and spending plan (aka a budget). It’s also a good idea to revisit that plan annually or when a major shift occurs in your income or expenses. 

We’ve created an easy to use, but thorough, Spending and Saving Plan tool to use. Before you get started, here are some tips to help you #ThinkLikeASaver, ensuring that your money is working smarter and harder for you.

4 Steps to Spending Your Stimulus Check Wisely When You Don't Have An Emergency Fund

Written by Carolyn Pemberton · 09 April 2020

Most Americans don't have an emergency fund. While we're all experiencing this pandemic very differently — some having only minor inconveniences and others finding themselves without a job or having to close their business — those without a savings cushion are vulnerable to feeling the ramifications of COVID-19 for a very long time.

With stimulus checks on the way, there will be tough financial decisions to make once received. Here are active steps you can take, along with things to consider to help you develop a solid spending plan.

1. Make a list of all expenses

Write out every single expense that you have, including essentials like food and utilities. Be sure to go through your checking and savings account history to make sure you don't have any “vampire” expenses, like monthly subscriptions that you may have forgotten about and no longer need.

2. Talk to all creditors and lenders

The CARES Act puts into effect two mortgage relief provisions: protection from foreclosure, and a right to forbearance (pausing or making partial payments) for those experiencing loss of income due to COVID-19. However, the provisions are not automatic and are only for federal loans, so you MUST talk to your lender.

If a creditor/lender offers you a payment plan or other relief, make sure you get it in writing and take note of the names and dates of the customer service representatives with whom you speak.

Thankfully, some utility companies have announced they won't cut off services if they aren't being paid. Be sure you know all of your utility and service providers' stance on this, so there are no surprises. You don't want to make any assumptions.

RELATED: Your lender might let you miss a few mortgage payments. Three questions you should ask first

3. Prioritize expenses

Expenses relating to food, shelter, and medicine should come first. This would include mortgage, rent, utilities, groceries, diapers, and medications. It also includes medical insurance premiums and homeowners/renter's insurance.

If you need childcare to work, that is another essential expense. Next in line are auto-related expenses, including transportation, gas, insurance premiums, and car payments.

Loans that are secured by collateral (for example, mortgages and auto loans) are generally considered more important than those without collateral, like consumer credit card debt. For example, if you don't pay your mortgage, a bank can foreclose on your property; if you don't pay your car loan, the bank can seize your car. While not paying your credit card bills will negatively affect your credit score, credit card companies will not come into your house and take your personal possessions.

Federal student loans are currently not accruing interest until September 30, 2020, and can be put into forbearance so that no payments are due. If you have a private or institutional loan, you will have to contact the lender for other options.

Remember, if you can afford the minimum payments on your credit cards, then make those payments. It will help to maintain your credit score.

Expenses for "elective" items, like gym memberships, streaming services, and other subscriptions, come last. Before simply canceling a contract, make sure to contact the vendor – canceling may come with a hefty penalty, but you may be able to temporarily "pause" the service.

4. Pay your debts in the order of priority

Now that you know all your expenses, have prioritized them, and know your payment options with creditors and lenders, it's time to make the payments in order of priority.

It's important to note that we are approaching tax season, so many expect to receive their tax refunds in the coming months. If you plan to receive a refund, you can apply the same process to that extra income.

If you are still unsure or are overwhelmed with where to start, use our decision tree for guidance on what to do with your stimulus check and tax refund.

Then make a commitment to be more proactive with saving by taking the America Saves pledge. We'll be your savings accountability partner as you take a small step toward saving.

Stimulus Decision Tree

Download Decision Tree: PNG | PDF

Then make a commitment to be more proactive with saving by taking the America Saves pledge. We'll be your savings accountability partner as you take a small step toward saving.

Take the America Saves Pledge

Pantry Shopping and Meal Planning Preparation Tips

Written by Carolyn Pemberton · 02 April 2020

With experts telling Americans to practice social distancing and to be ready for a possible 14-day self-quarantine one of our first concerns is food. How do we shop and prepare for 14 days worth of meals? Equally important are concerns about shopping without overbuying and staying on a budget.

7 Free Family Fun Ideas to Try While Sheltering in Place

Written by Shykeia Spinks · 02 April 2020

Just a few weeks ago it’s possible that we felt time escaped us. As closings from the COVID-19 pandemic force people to stay in their homes, we are reunited with our time, but may struggle to find exciting and interesting ways to spend it.

No worries! We’re sharing a list of seven free activities to enjoy with your family while social distancing.

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Tip of the Day

  • Written by Administrator2 | March 19, 2014

    Having emergency savings may be the most important way to stay afloat financially http://ow.ly/r6i1n

Saver Tips and Stories View all »

Inspired to Build Savings By Starting Small

Written by Great Lakes Michigan Saves | April 19, 2016

With little-to-no money in the bank and living on a limited income with her adult daughter, Sharon wasn’t sure if building up savings for her future was even possible. “At my age, to put debts behind me would be a relief,” she said, but she wasn’t quite sure how to even get started with a savings plan. That all changed when Sharon attended the Great Lakes Michigan Saves Pay Yourself First Saver’s Summit during America Saves Week.

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From Overwhelmed to In Control

Written by | September 12, 2019

In 2017 Debi felt overwhelmed. Her credit cards were maxed, and she wasn't exactly sure how to handle it. When asked how her credit issues started, her answer sounded like many Savers that we've spoken to: making too many impulse purchases. “I was driven by feelings like ‘That sounds good,’ or ‘I am too tired to cook.’” Then she attended a university extension program that introduced her to America Saves. That’s where she heard the tip that set her on her savings journey - stop accumulating debt.

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Getting Out of Debt

Written by Katie Bryan | October 28, 2013

In 2004, Tonya Shelton was facing financial ruin. Barely making more than minimum wage and having lost her home to an unexpected family crisis, Shelton and her family were forced to live in a rundown hotel.

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