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How Organizations are Helping People Save

Written by Katie Bryan · 28 October 2013

A wide range of organizations, including government agencies, corporations, financial services institutions, banks, credit unions, academic institutions, and nonprofits help people save more successfully by encouraging their constituents to save, providing information about savings strategies and products, and offering opportunities to take financial action.

Your organization can help, too. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.for more information.

Here are some examples of what others have done.

Financial Institutions

From large banks to small community banks, financial institutions have used America Saves and America Saves Week to attract new customers, offer incentivized accounts to help people save, increase account balances, and educate individuals on the importance of saving.

About half of reporting financial institutions that participated in America Saves Week 2011 found higher than normal rates of accounts opened during the week, showing that participation benefits consumers and is good for business.  

Community Bank (operated by Bank of America)

  • Encouraged customers to take the MilitarySaves.org “Savers Pledge”
  • Promoted financial education and counseling services both internally and outside of traditional banking channels
  • Provided actionable outreach tools to use in the community
  • Reached and educated parents through educational resources designed for and directed toward children
  • Encouraged and challenged adults and children to save money for short and long‐term needs, primarily through automatic transfers to an established Community Bank savings account
  • Provided customers with electronic resources and tools to support ongoing savings efforts
    • 669 Adult Savings Accounts Opened
    • 311 Direct Deposits Set-up
    • 132 CDs Opened
    • 261 Transfers set Up
    • 23,557 Customer Engagements

Armed Forces Bank, N.A. (AFB) and Armed Forces Bank of California, N.A (AFBCA)

  • America campaign America Saves slogan “Start Small, Think Big” AFB and AFBCA created a strategy that started small
  • Local Bank and Command driven activities - and expanded to a bank-wide effort to encourage military members and their families to invest in their financial readiness.
  • Lead by executive management and implemented by employees at all levels
  • Local installation communities came together with local AFB/AFBCA banking centers to motivate and to educate military members and their families to “Set A Goal, Make a Plan, Save Automatically" through participation financial education classes, table displays, giveaways, distribution of literature about saving, protecting identity, and good credit
  • Active endorsement by all 62 AFB/AFBCA branches at branches and key locations on military installations.
  • Combined total of 695 new AFB/AFBCA savings accounts
  • 423 enrollments in the AFB/AFBCA Savings Cent$ program

Prudential Retirement

  • Conducted a satellite media tour featuring Christine Marcks, President, Prudential Retirement, and
  • Offered a promotional Certificate of Deposit product during the Week
  • Results: 580,000 mailers sent; 11,188 increases to retirement accounts; $60 Million in new annualized savings.

Navy Federal Credit Union

  • Promoted Product February 20th – March 18th
    • Custom Club Account ($5 min., $5,000 max.)
    • APY was increased to 2.00%
    • No Direct Deposit or Checking Account requirement (perfect for our audience)
    • Custom Club is “goal” oriented
    • “Automatic” recurring deposits can be set up
    • “Manual” deposits made anytime 
  • Product Take-up
    • 11,532 Custom Club Accounts were opened for $22.5 million
    • 626 (5%) were opened by new members (became a member on or after February 20th) for a total of $1.4 million
    • 220 Branches worldwide
  • Marketing
    • Posters & Take Ones
    • Homepage:  www.navyfederal.org
      • 2 Opportunities presented to viewers: Take the Pledge & Learn about the Custom Club Account
    • Contact Center: Members who called in were educated about the Custom Club Account
      • Social Media (Facebook)
      • Take the Pledge and receive a free Navy Federal T-Shirt
      • Custom Club Contest
      • Over 900 Visitors wrote a post
      • 272% Visitor increase to our Military Saves page (compared to week before Military Saves Week started)
      • People were sharing pledges & stories on our social media outlets. The act of sharing ways to save and making suggestions was contagious. 

The First A National Banking Association

  • Opened 152 new accounts during America Saves Week totaling almost $56,000.00 in new money
  • Waived the service charge for any account under $100.00 for one year in order for anyone to grow their wealth during that time and open the account with as little as $15.00
  •  Sent material to all area schools administrator, put it on our facebook page, newspaper ad, our bank marquees, and teller receipts.
  • Had a branch contest as to who could open the most accounts. 17 branches competed for first, second, and third place.

The Columbia Bank

  • Held a savings campaign from 2/21-2/29 in 40 of The Columbia Bank full service branches
  • Opened 119 new savings-type accounts for a total of $1,438,380.61
  • Held a contest We will be drawing a winning entry next week for a $500 CD from The Columbia Bank

First Security Bank and Trust

  • 14 branches throughout Iowa
  • Developed a unique savings product called “First Step CD” that provides higher rates and is designed to encourage savers to develop a habit of saving for unexpected events, vacations, or other needs by adding to it each month.
  • Has special training for its retail bankers in which it teaches them about savings methods and how to encourage their customers to “pay yourself first” through savings, and to encourage customers to sign up for emailed savings tips.

Service Credit Union

  • Opened 302 Military Saves Accounts with an average balance of $3859 (approximate total of $1.1 million)
  • The account included a 2% dividend rate on balances up to $2500 through November of 2013
  • Members were required to set up monthly automatic deposits of $25 or more to encourage a savings habit
  • Additionally, 800 military members signed up for the Military Saves program at Service Credit Union

Sea Air Federal Credit Union

  • Add-on Certificate at 2% for 24 months
  • Initial deposit of $100 - $1,000 with subsequent deposits encouraged up to $500 per month
  • Military Saves Week Results: 13 new accounts with approximately $10k in new funds.

Belvoir FCU

  • Offered a 10% APY certificate and opened 24 of them for active duty service members and their spouses
  • The high interest rate created a buzz about saving money and encouraged future savings with our institution and savings in general

The Peoples Bank

  • Small community bank consisting of three offices
  • Within the three offices they opened 29 new savings accounts during February

Colleges and Universities

  • Chattanooga State Community College: Throughout America Saves Week 2014, we reached the entire campus community (students, faculty and staff) through email messages. We promoted saving tips and budgeting ideas. Our week was centered on a variety of themes. We started by introducing the America Saves concept to our community and encouraged them to start small and think big.  We organized the Save Your Refund contest as well as discussed ways to get motivated to save.

  • East Side University Community Learning Center: During the America Save Week, we created a “savings jar” in order to purchase GED 2014 practice tests vouchers for five students who could not afford them.  We had been able to receive contributions from students and faculty who dropped their change in our “saving jar” allowing us to help these students in need.

  • Kaplan College-Bakersfield:We initiated the “$5 saving goal” for our students. We encourage our students to take the pledge and to save at least $5.  We maximized our visits in classrooms and increased awareness about how important saving is. 

  • Red to Black  at Texas Tech University:This year, we organized a competition between our institution and Kansas State to see which one will get more students to take the pledge to save.  Texas Tech won! In addition, we used social media as an effective tool to reach out to students on our campus.

  • Wiley College:We had a successful America Saves Week at Wiley. The entire week was full of events and activities. We started with a press conference which the VP of Students Affairs emphasized the importance of saving and what Wiley is doing to promote it. Then, the Wiley Saves Team encouraged faculty and staff to take the pledge by scheduling visits in their offices. Throughout the week, the team held discussion sessions in classes, public yards, and the cafeteria. The last day of our week, a public awareness campaign was organized in the yard where hundreds of students attended enjoyed performances and used their smart phones to take the pledge to save and set their saving goals. 

  • University of Illinois Saves:We organized a campus wide competition from February 24 to April 10.  Three university of Illinois campuses (Chicago, Urbana-champaign and Springfield) participated. The annual University of Illinois Saves Campus Competition “encourages a culture of positive financial behavior, savings, throughout the University of Illinois system by encouraging students, staff & faculty to set savings goals.” This year alone during our competition, we had 373 savers (students, faculty and staff) with diverse saving goals. Urbana-Champaign Campus won the entire competition with 316 people pledging to save. This event was a success and thanks to our partners’ marketing efforts, the program keeps on advancing.

  • Santa Fe College: We did a Financial Aid Awareness Week in the week of May 24. Even though we did not have much time to plan this, it was a great event. We gave the students information regarding Legal/ID theft advice, eating healthy on a budget, budget counseling, investment advice, career coaching, and a special speaker who talked about financial literacy. We asked students to enter their information if they wanted so that we could assess the success of the event. Only 153 students who participated shared their information and most of them where satisfied with our performance. They all stated that they would like to participate the next year.

  • California State University Northridge- CSUN Saves:We tested a service-learning model on California State University, Northridge's campus where students in a Family and Individual Money Management general education course had the option of participating in the campus CSUN Saves campaign as a service-learning opportunity. Students were responsible for managing social media, marketing, public relations and presentations. During America Saves Week, students coordinated over 50 hours of tabling events on campus (3 locations), participated in 2 resource fairs and a financial literacy event, and conducted one financial education workshop at a Living Learning Community in the dorms. To their credit, they actively sought out additional venues for sharing the budgeting and saving message and are currently planning and preparing for financial workshops at fraternities, for resident advisers in the dorms, and several other student organizations and clubs. 

 

Reaching Small Businesses and Employees

  1. Other financial services companies and federal agencies have found participation in America Saves and America Saves Week particularly helpful in promoting good financial behavior for their employees.  For example: MetLife ─ sent out a flash email, that reached over 33,000 associates to introduce America Saves Week, reinforce why MetLife supports it, and connect it to what they do as a company. The Social Security Administration ─ educated their employees on the importance of savings and financial planning by hosting a one-day comprehensive Seminar and sending a nationwide email message on the importance of America Saves Week.
  2. The Department of Labor, IRS, NACHA, and AICPA have partnered with America Saves to reach small business owners during ASW 2011, 2012, and 2013.  DOL hosted webinars that included videos by Asst. Secy Phyllis Borzi for hundreds of small business owners.  These webinars provided an overview by DOL and the IRS of how to set up retirement plans for employees.  America Saves focused on the importance of employer support of saving at work by providing direct deposit for paychecks and the opportunity for automatically saving a portion of each paycheck.  The missing component to this strategy is the participation by a financial institution to provide the needed banking services. 

Downloads and Resources

Written by Katie Bryan · 25 October 2013

Partner Resource Packets

  • Quarterly, America Saves provides organizations with a resource packet that focuses on one aspect of saving. This material will help you communicate with the public, constituents, and other organizations about how your company or organization promotes and encourages saving.

Flyers and Posters

  • Download the following 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.

Save for Education

College Education Financial Aid 529 Plans
Written by Katie Bryan · 25 October 2013

Saving for education is the second most popular goal (after saving for emergencies) savers select when they pledge to save with America Saves. There are many different things to factor in when saving and paying for college. The information and resources below can help you plan for this large expense.

Cost of College

According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2015–2016 school year was $32,405 at private colleges, $23,893 for out-of-state residents attending public universities, and $9,410 for state residents at public colleges. The average cost of room and board in 2015–2016 ranged from $10,138 at four-year public schools to $11,516 at private schools.

Minimizing the Cost of College

Find Free Money

·       Grants and scholarships are often called “gift aid” because they are free money—financial aid that doesn't have to be repaid. Grants are often need-based, while scholarships are usually merit-based. Learn more at StudentAid.ed.gov 

Consider Community College

·       According to the College Board, the average community college costs $3,435 and the average student received enough grants and tax breaks to cover the typical tuition and all but $10 of the average $1,230 bill for textbooks and school supplies. Attending this type of college for your first two years can save you thousands of dollars.

Work While in School

·       Earning money while you attend school is one way to help keep costs down – especially if you don’t have enough saved to pay for college in full. Any money you earn is money you don’t need to borrow.

Federal Work-Study 

·       Provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. The program encourages community service work and work related to the student’s course of study. Learn more at StudentAid.ed.gov

Ways to Save for College

        529 Plans

·       A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged savings plan designed to encourage saving for future college costs. 529 plans, legally known as “qualified tuition plans,” are sponsored by states, state agencies, or educational institutions and are authorized by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code.

·       Learn more about these types of plans, the fees associated with them, how they impact financial aid eligibility, and if they are right for you at SEC.gov

       Savings Bonds

·       The Education Savings Bond Program permits qualified taxpayers to exclude from their gross income all or a portion of the interest earned on the redemption of eligible Series EE and Series I bonds issued after 1989.

·       For more on bonds visit TreasuryDirect.gov 

Taking Out Loans

·       If you need to borrow money to pay for college or career school, start with federal student loans. Learn more at StudentAid.ed.gov

Research

Written by Katie Bryan · 25 October 2013

America Saves Research

 

Annual America Saves Week Surveys

Since 2007, America Saves along with the American Savings Education Council have surveyed individuals on their savings progress, if they have a plan to save or not, and other important savings behaviors as part of America Saves Week. 

Personal Savings Index

America Saves now has three years worth of surveys in which respondents were asked to rate their own savings interest, effort, and effectiveness on a ten-point scale. 

Saver Surveys

America Saves periodically surveys those who have taken the America Saves Pledge to learn more about who these savers are, how much and what they are saving for, and how they feel about their savings. America Saves also surveys them to learn more about the products and methods they use to save.

Young Workers 

America Saves conducted a focus group to learn the savings habits and behaviors of those who participated in the America Saves for Young Workers initiative. 

Debt

In this survey, America Saves and Experian® found that individuals with credit card, payday loan, and other high-cost consumer debt are more likely to have difficulty saving.

 

Additional Research from the Consumer Federation of America

 

Savings Habits and Concerns

Banks and Credit Unions

Financial Planners

Emergency Savings

Women

Wealth Gap

Youth and Savings

America Saves White Paper

Importance of Credit History

Credit History Credit Score
Written by Katie Bryan · 23 October 2013

Good credit plays an important role in your financial life. Not only is it essential for obvious things like qualifying for a loan or getting a credit card, but also for less obvious things like getting cellular telephone service, renting a car, and perhaps even getting a job. Click here to download the Importance of Credit History and Successful Savings Packet or read below.


 

WHAT IS A CREDIT REPORT AND SCORE?

A credit score is a three-digit number that measures how likely you are to repay a loan on time. It uses information from your credit report to predict the risk of you not paying that loan back 24 months after scoring.

A credit report is an explanation of your credit history. It states when and where you applied for credit, whom you borrowed money from, and whom you still owe. Your credit report also tells you if you’ve paid off a debt and if you make monthly payments on time.

How can I get a copy of my credit report and score?

The three nationwide consumer reporting companies- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are required by The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to provide you, at your request, with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months. (Available at www.annualcreditreport.com)

How much does it cost?

You will have to pay around $14 to receive an addition credit report within 12 month of when you received your free report. To receive a copy of your credit score, you will have to pay one of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies around $14.

Who do I get help from if I find something wrong?

You are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. There are two things you should do if you find an inaccuracy. First, tell the consumer reporting company (where you got the report from), in writing, what information you think is inaccurate. Consumer reporting companies are required to investigate anything in question and must forward all relevant data to the organization that provided the information. Second, tell the creditor or other information provider in writing that you dispute an item.

Who has access to my credit report?

The FCRA specifies who can access your credit report. Those who have access to your credit report include creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use the information in your report to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, em­ployment, or renting a home.

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WHY IS SAVING SO IMPORTANT TO CREDIT?

It is important for all Americans to have savings. Having a savings account allows people to pay for emergencies, gives people financial freedom, and can contribute to a higher credit score. A high credit score can make it easier to rent an apartment, get utility services, and even get a job.

Paying for Emergencies

Having a savings account allows people to pay for emergencies on their own instead of turning to high-interest credit cards or payday loans. Not being able to pay off these types of loans can severely affect your credit score.

Higher Credit Score

Having savings allows you to pay your bills on time. Paying your bills on time can lead to a higher credit score.

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HOW DO I START SAVING?

When it comes to saving money, the sooner you start the better. It's not an act that's accomplished overnight, but a process that happens gradually and grows over time. Just remember, slow and steady wins the race.

Making ends meet can be a challenge. And you may wonder how it's possible to spare anything. But any amount saved - a quarter, a dollar - is progress. Those quarters and dollars add up. As you get into the habit of routinely "paying into your savings" you'll see the money you're setting aside grow.

The first thing you have to do to start saving is take a look at your finances and make sure that you are spending less than you earn.

·         Make a budget

·         Find ways to cut back on spending

·         Set up automatic savings 

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WHY IS GOOD CREDIT MANAGEMENT SO IMPORTANT?

Good credit plays an important role in your financial life. Not only is it essential for obvious things like qualifying for a loan or getting a credit card, but also for less obvious things like getting cellular telephone service, renting a car, and perhaps even getting a job.

Managing your credit will also help you save for a rainy day. A strong credit history, reflected in good credit scores, will let you qualify for lower interest rates and fees, freeing up additional money to set aside for emergencies, retirement, and other smaller unexpected expenses. Decreasing debt and increasing savings reduces stress and leads to greater financial freedom.

The good news is that having good credit is not difficult. Simply follow these five fundamentals of good credit management and you will build and maintain a credit history that will enable you to get the credit you need, when you need it.

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5 TIPS FOR BUILDING GOOD CREDIT

  1. Establish a credit report

To establish a credit report you must have an open, active credit account. To get your first credit account talk to your bank or credit union.

  1. Always pay as agreed

Make at least the minimum payment due each month and never be late. Delinquent payments and payments that don’t meet at least the minimum contractual amount will have the most immediate, negative impact on your credit report and credit scores.

  1. Keep your balances low

Keeping your balances low as compared to your available credit limits is a sign of good credit management and shows lenders you are a good credit risk. Your utilization rate, also called your balance-to-limit ratio is a key component to credit scores.

  1. Apply for credit wisely

Do not apply for multiple accounts in a short period of time. Taking on large amounts of debt in a short time is a sign of high credit risk. Apply for credit when you need it, and only in the amount you need. Just because credit is offered, doesn’t mean you have to accept it.

  1. Demonstrate good credit habits over long periods of time

In order to have good credit scores you must demonstrate a habit of good credit management over a long period of time.

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IS CREDIT REPAIR A GOOD IDEA?

Every day, companies target consumers who have poor credit histories with promises to clean up their credit report so they can get a car loan, a home mortgage, insurance, or even a job once they pay them a fee for the service. The truth is, these companies can’t deliver an improved credit report for you using the tactics they promote. It’s illegal: No one can remove accurate negative information from your credit report.

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WHAT IS LOAN CONSOLIDATION?

A Direct Consolidation Loan allows a borrower to consolidate (combine) multiple federal student loans into one loan. The result is a single monthly payment instead of multiple payments. Use a loan consolidation calculator to find out if this is a good option for you.

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WHAT IS A DEBT MANAGEMENT PLAN?

Organizations that advertise credit counseling often arrange for consumers to pay debts through a debt management plan (DMP). In a DMP, you deposit money each month with a credit counseling organization. The organization uses these deposits to pay your credit card bills, student loans, medical bills, or other unsecured debts according to a payment schedule they’ve worked out with you and your creditors. Creditors may agree to lower interest rates or waive certain fees if you are repaying through a DMP. Some organizations that offer DMPs have deceived and defrauded consumers. If you are paying through a DMP, contact your creditors and confirm that they have accepted the proposed plan before you send any payments to the organization handling your DMP.

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WHERE CAN I GET HELP WITH DEBTS I CANT AFFORD TO PAY?

In most communities, there are agencies that can help you manage your debts. The most helpful and most widely available are non-profit Consumer Credit Counseling Services (CCCS). CCCS counselors can work with you privately to help you develop a budget, figure out your options, and negotiate with creditors to repay your debts. Call 1-800-388-2227 to locate the office nearest you.

If your debts are too large, you may want to consider bankruptcy. Bankruptcy can give you a fresh start, but it is a serious step that can make it harder to get credit for years after you declare bankruptcy. Call your local Legal Aid or Legal Services office for advice. If you don’t qualify for their services, ask them for a referral to a bankruptcy attorney 

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FDIC MODEL SAFE ACCOUNTS TEMPLATE

The FDIC Model Safe Accounts Template provides insured institutions with guidelines for offering cost-effective accounts that are safe and affordable for consumers. The accounts reflect the following guiding principles: transparent and reasonable rates and fees and access to banking services that are FDIC insured.


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FREQUENTLY ASKED CREDIT QUESTIONS

Do Missed Payments Affect My Score?

How many payments you miss, if you don’t pay the debt at all, and how long ago late payments occurred are all important. The further in the past a late payment occurred, the less impact it will have on credit scores and lending decisions. That is why it is important to catch up on your payments if you have fallen behind.

How Can I Get Credit if I Can’t Open a Credit Account?

If you cannot get a credit account through a bank or credit union, you may need a friend or family member to cosign for you or add you as an authorized user on an existing account.

Will Closing Accounts Raise My Credit Score?

Be cautious about closing accounts. Doing so will reduce your available credit limits and will increase your overall utilization rate, making it appear as if you have suddenly taken on more debt. The result is a temporary negative impact on your credit scores.

Will Applying for New Accounts Raise My Credit Score?

Each time you apply for credit an inquiry is added to your credit report. Inquiries are a record that a lender has reviewed your credit report in response to your application for credit. They indicate that you may have new debt that is not yet shown as an account in your credit report, and so represent an unknown risk to lenders. For that reason, recent inquiries can have a small but meaningful impact on credit scores. However, that impact is temporary.

How does Shopping for a Car or Home Affect My Score?

Inquiries for auto purchases and mortgage loans are unique. Because lenders recognize you will shop for the best auto and mortgage loan rates, inquiries for those types of loans in a short period are counted as a single inquiry by credit scoring systems. Doing so enables you to find the best rates with little or no impact on your credit scores.

What is the First Step to Rebuild My Credit Score?

The first step in rebuilding strong credit scores after having credit problems is to bring your accounts current by paying any remaining past-due payments. Before your credit scores will improve significantly, however, you must show that you have regained control of your credit by making on-time payments over time. The more serious your past credit difficulties, the longer it will take to rebuild a positive credit history and strong credit scores.

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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Industry Resources:

Consumer Federation of America’s Vantage Credit Score Website
http://www.creditscorequiz.org 

http://www.creditscorequiz.org/espanol

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) website
http://www.finra.org/

My Fico, About Credit Scores
http://www.myfico.com/crediteducation/creditscores.aspx

Money Under 30, Understanding “Your Number”
http://www.moneyunder30.com/what-is-a-credit-score

Bankrate, Credit Scores Explained
http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/cc/20010223a.asp

Government Resources:

U.S. General Services Administration, Federal Citizen Information Center and Fair Isaac Corporation (2008)
http://publications.usa.gov/USAPubs.php?PubID=3379

Federal Trade Commission’s, Facts for Consumers (2011)
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre34.shtm

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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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