Partner Spotlight: America Saves Week – Helping People Save All Year Long

Thousands of organizations participate in America Saves Week each year, promoting good saving practices and encouraging people to assess their saving status. The U.S. Department of the Treasury was a proud participant in America Saves Week 2013 (Feb. 25 - March 2). We spoke with the two lead organizers of America Saves Week – Nancy Register, director of America Saves and associate director of the Consumer Federation of America, and Nevin Adams, director of the American Savings Education Council – about the value of saving, the current savings climate in the United States, and how to encourage saving throughout the year.

Why is it important to save?

Nancy Register: Saving is an important part of good financial behavior because a savings account helps keep you from going into debt or asking family and friends to borrow money. We know that every household has unplanned expenses that aren’t in the budget and when you don’t have money in the bank to pay for those expenses, you are at risk for all kinds of negative consequences. It’s important for every household in the country have a contingency savings account to help pay for unplanned expenses.

Nevin Adams: The importance of saving generally comes down to two things: the things you didn’t plan for and the things that you’d like to do but can't afford. Things you don’t plan for can be as serious as losing your job or as mundane as a flat tire. If you haven't set aside money for those types of emergencies, you'll have to find the money somewhere else, either by cutting back on other spending or perhaps by taking on debt. As for the things you can’t afford, those can be anything from a new car to retirement. These tend to cost more and aren’t essential now, but might be in the future. Generally speaking, setting aside a little now can add up to a lot over time and can make it possible to achieve those important goals without taking a big financial hit down the road.

What can you tell us about the current savings climate?

Nancy Register: I think American families are still feeling fragile financially. The need to have a savings account was brought home to all of us during the recession and I think people are looking for ways to save more on a regular basis, including paying down debt. Saving is still top of mind and this is a good time to recommit. The main message is: You don't have to save a lot every month.

Nevin Adams: Times are still tough for many Americans and surveys suggest that even those with jobs are nervous about their prospects for the future. However, that uncertainty seems to have brought about—at least for some—a heightened awareness of the need to set money aside for a rainy day. A survey released last year as part of America Saves Week noted that over the past three years, there has been a decline in the number of people who spend less than their income and save the difference, are building home equity, have adequate emergency savings, and think they are saving enough for retirement. Effective saving starts with a plan – and there’s no better place to plan – and no better time to start – than America Saves Week.

What campaign resources and information can people access to continue talking about money and savings after March 2?

Nancy Register: People should visit AmericaSaves.org for more information after March 2. Military Saves and Young America Saves are also great resources. We really want everyone to assess their savings all year long, not just during America Saves Week. To help, people can sign up every year to take the America Saves Week pledge to recommit to their savings goal.

Nevin Adams: We also offer some good information and links to other savings sources at www.choosetosave.org, including our Ballpark E$timate, an interactive online tool for helping to figure out how much you need to save to fund a comfortable retirement. There’s also a free app available for download.

 
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Tax Time Can Be Saving Time


With tax season in full swing, now is the time to remind the people in your networks that tax time is a great time to start saving. Federal income tax refunds can be used to buy Series I savings bonds in digital or paper form. Digital savings bonds are convenient to manage with an online TreasuryDirect account. Complete IRS Form 8888 to designate an amount to buy paper Series I Savings Bonds or to deposit into your online TreasuryDirect account.

News outlets are already helping to spread the word about this valuable savings option. The San Francisco Chronicle and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently published articles about putting tax refunds to work with savings bonds.

To learn more about opening a TreasuryDirect account or buying savings bonds, visit the Ready.Save.Grow. website at www.treasurydirect.gov/readysavegrow.

Don't Forget About Financial Spring Cleaning

The annual tradition of "spring cleaning" is an ideal time to tidy up one's financial affairs. While cleaning out old files, drawers and closets, you may even find a hidden treasure – unredeemed savings bonds.

People may not be aware that savings bonds eventually stop earning interest. The Ready.Save.Grow. campaign makes it convenient to go online and find out the status of savings bonds and whether it's time to redeem them. For example:

  • Hunt for Treasure! The Treasury Hunt service allows people to see if they own Series E and Series EE savings bonds from 1974 or later that no longer earn interest.
  • Be Smart – Go Digital. If your paper bonds have not matured, consider going paperless. TreasuryDirect's free SmartExchange program can be used to convert Series EE or Series I bonds from paper to digital. You can manage your digital bonds conveniently online, 24 hours a day. Learn more about how to convert paper savings bonds.

 

TreasuryDirect is a registered mark of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Ready.Save.Grow. is a service mark of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

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