Rebecca Delmundo February 22, 2021 at 9:39 AM

How to celebrate America Saves Week

America Saves Week is a time to take stock of your current savings, set goals, and launch your plan to increase your savings.

The past year proved just how important it is to have savings on hand to cope with emergencies. If you don’t think your savings account is padded enough, you’re not alone. Consider these stats from the COVID-19 Financial Impact Series from Clever:

  • Roughly three in five Americans (61%) say their emergency savings won’t last through the end of the year or that they have already run out of savings.
  • In October 2020, the personal saving rate in the United States amounted to 13.6%, down from a high of 33.7% in April. Personal saving rate is calculated as the ratio of personal saving to disposable personal income.
  • 45% of Americans do not have enough savings to cover at least three months of living expenses.

We know it can be hard to save when it seems every dollar you earn is going just to cover the basics. But we’re going to share with you some easy ways to help you build those savings each day of America Saves Week.

And if you’re a member, you’re eligible to enter SAFE’s America Saves Week Sweepstakes for your chance to win a $50 cash prize. Learn more and see Official Rules at https://www.safecu.org/americasaves

Monday, Feb. 22, 2021
Theme: Save automatically

Today, explore ways to make saving money automatic. When money automatically goes into your savings account and not your main checking account, you may be less likely to spend it on unnecessary items. You may not even miss it!

Here are some ways SAFE can help you automatically save money.

Set automatic transfers from your checking account into your savings account. You can easily set up automatic transfers from your SAFE checking account to your SAFE savings account in online banking or in the Mobile App. Start with a small amount to transfer once or twice a month, say $25 or $50 a time. Increase it whenever you get a raise or additional income.

Divide your direct deposited checks into two accounts. Send the bulk of your direct deposit into your checking account, and the rest into a savings account.

Take advantage of SAFE’s Perfect Cents Checking.® Save with every purchase! Perfect Cents Checking® rounds up the amount of every purchase you make with your SAFE debit card to the next whole dollar. The “change” is deposited at the end of the day into your SAFE savings account.

Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021
Theme: Save for the unexpected

Raise your hand if you saw 2020 coming. If we learned anything, it was the need to prepare for the unexpected. Having an emergency fund is important to cover those unexpected expenses, such as car or home repairs, reduced income, or job loss. While financial experts advise on having enough money set aside to cover three to six months of your expenses, that might be difficult to put together at the moment.

SAFE’s financial educators share more about how to manage your finances in challenging times in our on-demand webinar.

So here are a few tips to help you get started on an emergency fund.

Set a small goal. Smaller goals will be easier to reach. That success will provide incentive to keep going. Start with a goal of saving $300 in six months. After that, determine whether you could save more each month and increase your savings goal for the next six months.

Develop a plan. You need to have a plan to ensure you are focused on meeting your goal. Part of your plan may be to set up automatic savings, cut certain expenses, or find ways to increase your income.

Keep going. Once you reach your initial goal, don’t stop! Continue building on your success, and you may reach that three to six months of expenses saved up that financial experts recommend.

Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021
Theme: Save to retire

It’s never too early – or too late – to start saving for your retirement. Get the most out of compound interest by starting to save early in your career. If you start later, take advantage of increased limits on how much you can put into retirement accounts after age 50.

Use your employer’s 401(k) plan. Try to save at least 10% of your pay. Consider increasing your contribution with each raise you receive. And make sure to take advantage of any employer match.

Consider a Roth IRA. You can contribute up to $6,000 (or up to $7,000 in you’re 50 or older) in 2021 and you won’t be taxed when you withdraw the funds in retirement. You can set up a direct deposit to your Roth IRA. If you put in $500 a month, you can max out your contributions for the year.

Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021
Theme: Save by reducing debt

By paying down debt, you’re actually saving! Interest on debt can reduce how much money you have available to save. Here are some tips on reducing your debt load. You can also learn more about managing your debt in a crisis and the importance of understanding your credit report with our on-demand webinars.

Stop creating new debt. Take a break from using your credit cards for a certain time period — such as a month.

Increase your monthly payments. That way you reduce the time it will take to pay off your debt—and you pay less interest in the process.

Reduce your fixed costs. Interest rates are at historic lows, so look into refinancing your mortgage or car loan so you’ll have lower monthly payments. If you purchased a home or car in the past couple of years, you may be able to get a better rate now. You can see SAFE’s latest auto loan rates here and mortgage refinance rates here.

Reduce expenses. Make your own meals rather than ordering out. Find ways to reduce other expenses, including trimming entertainment subscription services, contacting your insurance companies to see about lowering rates, and shopping your closet rather than buying new clothes. Apply savings to paying off your debt.

Friday, Feb. 26, 2021
Theme: Save as a family

Here are some ways to save money as a family.

Save on food costs. Write a list of what you need before buying groceries. One way you can remain on budget is to order your groceries online for curbside pickup or delivery. You can monitor what you’re buying and see the total as you add items to your digital basket. Buy in bulk when it makes sense for you and your family. Wasted food is wasted money! Plan a week’s worth of menus in advance so you can group food items to maximize your purchases.

Eliminate a service. Review all of your services your family has: streaming sites, gym, magazines, book clubs, and phones. What can you get rid of or streamline to help save you money?

Think thrifty—as in thrift stores. Buying at second-hand stores or consignment shops can save families quite a bit, especially for those with younger children who tend to outgrow their clothes quickly. Buying used is also a way to save money on family expenses if your kids are involved in sports or extracurricular activities.

Re-think elaborate get-togethers. COVID-19 changed the way people celebrated birthdays, graduations, and other milestones in 2020. While eventually we will be able to get back to hosting larger celebrations, perhaps consider keeping it simple anyway. It is less expensive and still provides memory-making moments.

Get kids involved. It’s never too early to talk about the basics of spending and saving with your children. For younger kids, it might be as simple as having them save up for something they want. For teens, it might involve a discussion on credit cards or saving up for college.

Everyone here at SAFE looks forward to celebrating America Saves Week with you.

Connect with us

Excited about America Saves Week? Here’s how to participate:

  • Go to the America Saves Week financial education playlist in SAFE's Financial Fitness Academy.
  • Register if you have not already done so, or log in if you already have a Financial Fitness Academy account.
  • Start and complete all modules on the America Saves Week playlist during America Saves Week: February 22 - 26, 2021

SAFE is here for YOU. Our financial experts are ready to talk with you about how you can improve your financial wellbeing. We’ll be happy to share more about how SAFE can help you build savings and reduce debt. You can schedule an appointment to talk with one of our experts at safecu.org/schedule.

Learn financial insights in lively, engaging webinars with our financial educators. You can register for our live events or watch our on-demand webinars at safecu.org/events.

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Rebecca Delmundo

Rebecca is AVP of Community Banking here at SAFE. She is a steadfast credit union advocate and is passionate about helping individuals achieve financial confidence.

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