As financial counselors and educators, we are well-versed in the value of savings and we share that information in a variety of ways to our clients and students. A Financial Educator may offer advice through a community course on budgeting. Financial Counselors work with clients to develop a tailored savings plan to meeting their unique needs. Financial Researchers study savings habits and implications and use those results to directly impact the work happening in the field. But despite the professional role, one common mission is shared among all financial professionals –to help individuals and families meet their financial goals.
This week is America Saves Week. America Saves is a campaign managed by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America, seeking to motivate, encourage and support low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth. The week is an annual opportunity for financial professionals and organizations to promote good savings behavior; and it also offers individuals the chance to assess their own savings situation and recommit to saving for the future!
As a supporter of America Saves Week, and its sister campaign, Military Saves Week, we asked our professionals to share some of their top tips to build savings and plan for the future. Although we had too many submissions to share them all here, below are a few of our favorites. Follow us on social media and the AFCPE Blog for more tips throughout the week.
“Consider everything you pick up to buy, especially the small stuff, as a want or a need.
If it is not an absolute need, put it down! Put that money you would have spent in a jar or piggy bank”
~ Anthony C. Pope, AFC®
“Pay Yourself First.
When you earn a pay raise put 50% to some sort of investment. You were used to living without that money prior to the raise, so you can live without it after the raise. Even if it’s only a 2% raise, that’s 1% more towards your future that you weren’t saving before! Set yourself up for future Financial Security!”
~ Kimberly Bottema, AFC® Certification Candidate
“Just Start! Whether its $1, $5 or $500, a day, per week, or per month, just get started. The only way to become a saver is by actually saving. Start small, stick with your plan and watch your savings grow. Once you start to see the results, then you can challenge yourself to save even more as time goes on. No matter the amount, the biggest and most important step you’ll take is the first one. So just get started!”
~ Arianne Mockabee, AFC® Certification Candidate
“Figure out the pattern.
Think about the times you’ve regretted the way you spent money this past year. Is there a pattern of who you were with, where you were, how you were feeling or the situation you were in? If so, think about how you can prepare yourself for the next time…and there will be a next time! Can you avoid the situation? Can you be ready to say something differently, like let’s get separate checks or I need some time to think about this before I buy this? Can you force yourself to limit spending by only carrying cash and not keeping a credit card on you or automatically having money withdrawn from your paycheck and put into a savings account? Predicting times you are vulnerable to overspending can help you avoid or minimize the damage.”
~ Syble Solomon, AFCPE® Member
“Start with an amount that you know you won’t necessarily miss to develop the savings habit, and then increase it every 3 months.
You can also commit a percentage of bonuses and raises to it. Painless savings!”
~ Susan Bross, AFC®
“Make it automatic!
Depending upon when the funds would be needed start with emergency savings, then a CD or savings bonds, an employer’s 401K, and lastly investments you understand that should grow in value over time.”
~ Madeleine Greene AFC®
KISS – Keep it Simple & SMART
“Savings should be DOABLE. We want to set ourselves up for SUCCESS whenever possible. Make simple goals, write them down, and keep them SMART!
Specific – Write it Down!
Measureable – Your goal should be measureable in a dollar amount and by a specific date
(i.e. I want to save $1000 by February 25, 2016.)
Action-Oriented – What steps will you take to reach your goal—write these steps down too!
(i.e. In order to do so, I will save $83.33 per month in an interest-bearing savings account)
Realistic – Set a goal that is Realistic. Figure out your necessary expenses each month (before fun), factor in some fun (you know you’ll spend it, so plan on it). What’s left over?
Timely- Break it down. $1000 / 12 months = $83.33 PLUS $.04…and don’t forget to use an interest-bearing savings account!”
~ Kate Mielitz, AFC®
“Round up! Okay this is my crazy savings plan (but it works!) When we enter expenditures and deposits into our checkbook, we always round up for expenses and down for deposits. It might be a few cents or a few dollars – but it adds up. We call it our “secret money.” It ensures we never get too low of a balance, and if we don’t see the money in our balance, we don’t think about it. Last time my husband did this, when he closed his account to move, he had over $2,000 in “secret money.” Pretty sweet surprise!”
~ Mary Howard, AFC®
“Keep that loose change. Clean your purse at the end of the week. All loose
‘change’ goes into a large container. The accumulated funds become vacation or Christmas gift funds. One year I had almost $500.”
~ Celvia Stovall, AFCPE® Member
“Use different savings accounts for different types of savings. Some credit unions offer free “sub accounts” (additional savings accounts within the same main account), so that a member can separate savings by its purpose, and give each account a NAME!”
~ Kathryn Greiner, AFC®
Join the campaign – commit to your own savings and share your advice through the many events happening this week! Use the hashtags: #ASW2015 and #MSW2015 on twitter to follow the chatter. What are some more of your favorite savings tips?