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America Saves Week: Bridging the Savings Gap

February 28, 2018

With so many obstacles to saving, how do we help bridge the savings gap for individuals and families, helping to turn savings goals into successful realities and small steps into lasting financial well-being?

On Tuesday February 27, @AFCPE hosted a Twitter Chat to discuss ways to overcome obstacles to successful savings and offer suggestions and tips on #bridgingthegap. We had a great turnout with lots of information shared!

Check out some of the tweets below. Unfortunately, there was too much incredible information shared to capture it all below, so if you missed the chat or we missed your tweet, be sure to share your advice in the comments section. Let the discussion continue!
 

Q1. What are some of the barriers or gaps that stop people from meeting their savings goals?

A1: Life has a tendency to throw curve balls at us. Unpredictability is always a huge barrier that stands in the way of healthy savings. #bridgingthegap #ASW18 #MSW18
@PenFed

A1. One of the biggest barriers to saving successfully is getting started. Open a savings account. Establish a habit of putting money in that account regularly - whether you do that manually or automate it. Start small to save big. #bridgingthegap
@AmericaSaves

A1: Current expenses and spending habits often cloud savings goals. It's a good idea to allocate savings first, then manage expenses #bridgingthegap #ASW18
@InviteEducation

A1: Not having secure, affordable housing gets in the way of #savings! #bridgingthegap
@KateMielitz

A1. Irregular work hours or freelance income that precludes the ability to easily automate regular savings deposits. #bridgingthegap
@moneytalk1

A1: Another barrier: cultural issues such as pressure to turn savings over to family members when they have emergencies. #bridgingthegap
@moneytalk1

A1: According to recent #JFCP research, lack of comfort w/ financial institutions & unemployment were key barriers to #saving: https://my.afcpe.org/system/journals/Vol27Issue2Art7.pdf #research #bridgingthegap
@AFCPE

A1. Savings is a key differentiator in financial wellbeing. People can face barriers in potentially multiple areas: in social & economic environment, knowledge & skills, personality & attitudes, decision making, available opportunities & behavior. #bridgingthegap #asw18 #msw18
@jerrybuchko

Q2. How can someone who is living paycheck-to-paycheck begin to accumulate savings?

A2. Get rid of debt and set aside the money that was going toward credit cards and loans. #ASW18  #bridgingthegap
@CreditDotOrg

A2: Track spending & develop and monthly spend plan, having a plan is key it allows us to be proactive as oppose to reactive #bridgingthegap, #ASW18 #MSW18
@financialfavor

A2. Start small! Even $1/day can make a difference. Starting the behavior of saving is often more important than a high $ amount of savings. #ASW18 #bridgingthegap
@Claudus19

A2. They can begin by assessing their situation to see what bills or services such as cable can be eliminated. Then take that money and deposit into a savings account. #bridgingthegap
@TThreadford

A2. Start with a budget. Be clear and honest about your income, but especially about your spending. Once you have a realistic budget, you can find ways to adjust your habits to put your savings goals first. #bridgingthegap
@MilitarySaves

A2: Commit to small dollar amounts for savings now. Long term, need to skill up for new career opportunities to increase income while staying budget disciplined. #bridgingthegap #ASW18
@InviteEducation

A2. Tracking spending can help identify areas of an budget that can be tightened to find money to save, even if it's very small amounts. #bridgingthegap #MSW18 #MFLN
@MFLNPF

A2: For those truly living paycheck to paycheck looking at their expenses and cash flow is a vital first step, also reaching out to organizations that may provide incentives to save can help bridge the hurdle of starting. Debt reduction is also key. #bridgingthegap
@TheWisestPenny

A2.  A great way to begin savings is using payroll deduction in a 401k plan or IRA.  Pay yourself first!  #bridgingthegap
@kalamarides

A2. Living check to check describes a generic condition but challenges can be very different depending on a person’s circumstances. Someone in poverty working fulltime for sub-living wage that barely covers basic needs faces a different challenge 1/2 #bridgingthegap #asw18 #msw18
@jerrybuchko

Q3. The retirement savings landscape is changing. What are ways to accumulate long term savings without access to a traditional employer retirement plan?

A3. Even if your employer doesn’t offer a retirement plan, you can still save for retirement - and get some tax benefits in the process - by putting money in an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). #bridgingthegap
@MilitarySaves

A3: Investing in a Roth IRA can be a great source of tax-free income in retirement. #bridgingthegap #bridgingthegap
@AFCPE

A3: There are traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs, as well as SEP-IRAs for self-employed individuals. This article breaks down the differences: http://bit.ly/2C6vWhK  #bridgingthegap #ASW18
@AmericaSaves

A3. Save your money in a money market account, share certificate or IRA account. #bridgingthegap #ASW18
@AirForceFCU

Q4. Similarly, what savings tips would you provide someone who has an irregular income?

A4. Even those without regular income have regular bills to pay that can be outlined in a budget. Consider your savings goal a line in your budget! Prioritize it and be sure to put what you can afford into savings each paycheck. #bridgingthegap
@MilitarySaves

A4: A monthly spend plan is key. be conservative when planning income & save any additional income over that amount #bridgingthegap , #ASW18  #MSW18  
@financialfavor

A4: Once your bank account reaches a certain limit, transfer the excess to savings (emergency and retirement). #bridgingthegap
@H_Benedict1

A4: Irregular pay? A4: Set aside $$$ from “peak” months 2 pay bills in “lean” months; plan ahead 2 transfer $$$ as needed
@moneytalk1

A4: There are digital tools available to help you adjust your budget on the fly and maximize savings month-to-month, but the real issue is adding skills to increase consistent income long term. Life is not a sprint, it's a marathon, stay consistent. # bridgingthegap  #ASW18 #MSW18
@InviteEducation

A4: Set up separate bank accounts. From the primary account, make 3 transfers per month - 1 for bills & essentials, 1 for emergency savings, 1 for longterm/essential #savings. # bridgingthegap
@AFCPE

A4: Save at least part of lump sums & windfalls such as a tax refund, settlement, gifts, or prize money. #bridgingthegap
@moneytalk1

A4. Automation can also be an irregular earner's best friend. Automating debt can reduce interest, while automating savings can put away $$ for short or long-term goals. #bridgingthegap
@MilitarySaves

Q5. How do we set our children up with early options to save to help them build sustainable wealth?

A5. Involve your kids in the family budgeting process and let them learn from experience. #ASW18 #bridgingthegap
@CreditDotOrg

A5. A 529 college savings plan is one early way to set your child up for financial success. These accounts can be opened by parents or grandparents as early as birth and have both automation and tax-savings perks. #bridgingthegap
@MilitarySaves

A5. I like to use the piggy bank with my grandchildren. We have a picture of what they are saving for and a graph that we fill in each time they reach a certain milestone. #bridgingthegap
@TThreadford

A5: We believe you should talk to your kids about money early and often. Educating about financial wellness is a great way to set up healthy financial futures. #bridgingthegap #ASW18 #MSW18
@PenFed

A5: Explain awesome power of compound interest to kids with this calculator: https://www.econedlink.org/tool/2/  #bridgingthegap
@moneytalk1

A5: A great resource for kids books is @CFPB Money as You Grow book club. It's about teaching "the building blocks of financial well-being - patience, planning, & problem-solving": https://t.co/CxgOm8VB8V # bridgingthegap  
@AFCPE

A5: Talk! It’s never too early to start talking to your kids about why it’s important to save. Make sure you model the behavior—walk your talk. #ASW18 #bridgingthegap
@Claudus19

A5: We also love programs like @oaklandpromise #BrilliantBaby model, which incentivizes #saving & provides #FinancialCoaching: http://oaklandpromise.org/programs/brilliantbaby/ @sagemoney #bridgingthegap
@AFCPE

A5: For young children, physically handling money, having a piggy bank, and making trips to the bank can help turn savings from an abstract to a concrete idea.  A regular allowance builds the idea of regular savings #bridgingthegap
@bizzywhiz

A5: It’s early on that children also begin forming their understanding of what work, jobs, money, earning, savings, spending, borrowing, etc mean & how each of these relates to the others within the context of their lives. #bridgingthegap #asw18 #msw18
@jerrybuchko

Q6. What savings advice do you have for families who are providing not only for children, but also for their aging parents?

A6. First and foremost, don't stop saving for your own goals. It will always feel like there'll be a better or more opportune time for saving, but the truth is that you'll miss out on the benefits of saving early (#compoundinterest) by waiting. #bridgingthegap
@MilitarySaves

A6. See if your parents qualify for any government benefits that may provide you with some financial relief. #bridgingthegap
@AirForceFCU

A6: Have an, open & honest financial conversation w/your parents early. Help them prepare for later years, so you can plan ahead for #bridgingthegap
@AFCPE

A6.  Consider the value of aging parents’ home in their financial planning.  May be their largest asset. #bridgingthegap
@kalamarides

Q7. Why is a spending plan or budget important when building savings?

A7: A spending plan is a financial roadmap. Be sure 2 include savings 4 goals & emergencies as an expense. #bridgingthegap
@moneytalk1

A7: A budget is the cornerstone of a good financial plan. It is the best way to manage your cash flow and avoid overspending. #bridgingthegap
@AFCPE

A7. Budgets are critical piece of savings because the unexpected will happen.  #FinancialWellness means not running out of money today (budget), tomorrow (insurance), and in the future (savings). #bridgingthegap
@kalamarides

A7. A spending plan is your game plan for financial success. It helps keep you on track! #ASW18 #MSW18 # bridgingthegap
@FinanceLacey

A7: How much time would you waste driving without Google Maps? Instead of guessing your way to savings, set a spending and budget plan to know when and how much to save and arrive on goals efficiently #bridgingthegap #ASW18 #MSW18
@InviteEducation

A7. A budget is the recipe for making your delicious financial cake! 🎂 Without a recipe, you’ll end up with an inedible disaster 🤢 By following the recipe, you know exactly how much you can afford to save while still meeting all your obligations. #ASW18 #bridgingthegap
@Claudus19

A7: A spending/budget plan can also be an important tool for reminding you about your priorities & savings goals. It’s easy to forget who you are & what you want as just getting through a typical day draws the focus of your attention in other directions. #bridgingthegap #asw18 #msw18
@jerrybuchko

Q8. How do we bridge the savings gap for people of color, closing the gap on wealth inequality?

A8 Financial Education programs in at risk communities are a must. Encouraging families and individuals to attend can be the hard part. #bridgingthegap #ASW18 #MSW18
@navicorePR

A8: “Financial advice is subsidized for wealthier households, as cost of advisor is deductible. Only 1/3 of families itemize so most can't access that subsidy. What if we had a refundable credit for financial coaches?” @womenswealthgap #bridgingthegap
@AFCPE

A8: Education and meeting people where they are  - #savings is not one size fits all. #bridgingthegap #ASW18 #MSW18
@H_Benedict1

A8: Reputable & affordable financial institutions located in minority neighborhoods; Building trust through community involvement # bridgingthegap
@financialfavor

A8. Thank you for asking this important question! Education and affordable access to it is, IMHO, key to building wealth and tearing down wealth inequality. Supporting access to HE is something we can all do in our communities using our fin knowledge. #ASW18 #bridgingthegap
@Claudus19

A8: Educate yourself & advocate for change. Remember, successful advocacy starts w/ understanding the situations of those we serve. #bridgingthegap #ASW18 #MSW18
@AFCPE

A8: Some reading & resources I've found helpful & can share along these lines: #bridgingthegap #asw18 #msw18
@jerrybuchko

A8: More advocacy to address larger issues related to policy-Pay equity, sick leave, affordable childcare, accessible transit systems that make it easier to get to work & other essential services #bridgingthegap
@financialfavor

Q9. What’s your number one savings tip for individuals and families who are taking the savers pledge this week?

A9: Connect with a financial coach! While meeting with a financial coach, individuals can not only receive individual support, but they can learn about these resources & more. #bridgingthegap
@financialfavor

A9. Your financial journey is like riding the NYC Subway. You can choose your stop or wait until you end up somewhere you never wanted to be. There will be delays & not all journeys take the same time but if you know where you're going, you'll get there.  #bridgingthegap #ASW18
@investgirls

A9: Make savings automatic. Ask your employer if you can split your paycheck into two accounts – checking and savings. Or, set up automatic bank or credit union transfers to a separate savings account. #bridgingthegap #ASW18
@AmericaSaves

A9: Talk with a professional. Getting on the right track early makes a big difference, but it's never too late to develop and plan and start saving. #bridgingthegap #MSW18
@MFLNPF

A9.  My number one tip is to discover the power of saving #1percentmore. Your future self will thank you! #bridgingthegap #ASW18 #MSW18
@kalamarides

A9: Start small, but think big. Just start. Set a goal, make a plan and save automatically. #bridgingthegap
@MilitarySaves

A9. When you are trying to manage your money & save, keep your stress low. It's hard to make good financial decisions when you're maxed out. Stay calm and save on! #bridgingthegap #MSW18 #ASW18
@FinanceLacey

A9. Set reasonable and attainable goals so that you don't lose motivation. #bridgingthegap #ASW18 #MSW18
@AirForceFCU

A9. Take the plunge! Once you’re in, the water will feel fine 😎 Make the pledge this week and then keep on going for the other 42 weeks remaining in 2018. You can do it! 💪 #ASW18 #bridgingthegap
@Claudus19

A9. Take stock of your savings goals & the techniques you’re using to save, then learn something new & try it. Succeeding at savings & personal finances is partly a learning process, and there is almost always something new to learn. #bridgingthegap #asw18 #msw18
@JerryBuchko

Q10. If you have questions about saving, where can you turn?

A10: Contact Cooperative Extension 4 services like classes, financial counseling, & publications: https://nifa.usda.gov/land-grant-colleges-and-universities-partner-website-directory?state=All&type=Extension #bridgingthegap
@moneytalk1

A10: Speak with your credit union about ways you can save. We have lots of financial education resources at http://bit.ly/pfculearn  #bridgingthegap #CUDifference #peoplehelpingpeople
@PenFed

A10.  If you have questions about savings turn to great resources like @AmericaSaves @MilitarySaves @1to1Fund and all the participants of today’ #bridgingthegap twitter chat!  Thanks to @AFCPE for hosting today! #ASW18 #MSW18
@kalamarides

A10: Use our online search to find an AFC® near you: http://www.afcpe.org/find-an-afc  or check out @CFPB financial coaching initiative: http://www.findmyfinancialcoach.com/find-coach.html  #ValueofanAFC #FFC #bridgingthegap
@AFCPE

A10. If Service members have questions they can check out @MilitarySaves @AmericaSaves @Military1Source or financial counselors at your installations for help. #bridgingthegap #MSW18 #ASW18
@FinanceLacey

Keep the conversation going! Add your tips and resources in the comments section below!


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