Saves Week 2023: Building Financial Confidence
February 27th - March 3, 2023
Join Cornell Cooperative Extension of Steuben County as we celebrate another America Saves Week, this year on February 27-March 3 with a theme of Building Financial Confidence. Since 2007 America Saves Week has been an annual celebration as well as a call to action for everyday Americans to commit to saving successfully. Through the support of thousands of participating organizations, together we encourage individuals to do a financial check-in that allows them to get a clear view of their finances, set savings goals, and create a plan to achieve them.
Each day during America Saves Week we will concentrate on one of five critical areas of financial wellness. These five areas are:
Saving Automatically | Monday, February 27, 2023
Saving For The Unexpected | Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Saving for Major Milestones | Wednesday, March 1, 2023
Paying Down Debt is Saving | Thursday, March 2, 2023
Saving at Any Age | Friday, March 3, 2023
Do you ever find yourself wondering if there is a magic formula to saving?
Does it seem that everyone around you knows the secret to saving successfully except you? It’s not unusual to feel unconfident about saving, no matter how much money you earn. Confidence doesn’t necessarily come with having a lot of money. Rather it comes from building healthy financial habits and using the resources you know are available to you – this is your financial confidence!
A great place to start building your financial confidence is to set up automatic savings. When you are saving a dedicated amount of money every week, every month, or on some other regular interval, you can begin to feel a sense of control over your saving habits. Whether you are saving just $5 or $10 a month or more, it’s the fact that you’re doing it automatically that is important.
Saving automatically is the formula for successful saving for anyone – including you. Getting started doesn’t have to be a hurdle either. Consider which one of the following two strategies would work best for you and follow the steps we’ve outlined.
For option #1, contact your employer’s payroll department to set up split deposit, telling them how much you want to save per paycheck, and follow their instructions.
If you want to use option #2, contact your bank or credit union telling them when and how much money you want automatically transferred into your savings account.
By utilizing either of these automated saving methods you can feel confident about building a healthy habit of saving. Imagine how good it will feel to see money accumulating in your savings account on a consistent basis. Instead of that voice in your head telling you that saving is hard, you’ll be able to say with confidence, “I am saving regularly!”
America Saves has a number of resources that can help you get started saving automatically:
So, remember your unique financial situation calls for you to make the choices that will work best for you and your family, which will ultimately increase your financial confidence and help you continue making informed choices throughout your saving journey!
How often have you heard that saving for life’s unexpected events is very important and a necessary part of being financially prepared? Most likely A LOT! Accompanying this message often is the statement that you need three to six months of expenses in your emergency savings account.
For those of us who struggle with saving for the unexpected or are saving but don’t have that three to six months amount accumulated, our confidence might be shaken because we haven’t met this standard. And when we lack confidence, it can be even harder to get or stay motivated to save for those unexpected events or opportunities that arise.
Instead of focusing on what you haven’t accomplished, here are a few strategies to consider that may help you build your financial confidence and begin or continue on your path to saving for the unexpected.
America Saves is here to help you get started on any of these strategies. Check out the 6 Steps to Establishing a Spending and Savings plan, take the America Saves Pledge, or listen to our Think Like A Saver podcast. We’re with you every step of the way on your savings journey.
What do homes, education, and retirement all have in common? They are major life milestones that require advance planning and saving large amounts of money. That amount of advance planning and money saved that is needed may make you doubt your ability to reach these goals. Even if you don’t feel that way today, you may have in the past or may in the future.
The good news is that there are ways to plan and save for these major milestones in a way that aligns with your values and current life situation and still sets you up for success. Keep in mind:
With all these goals, while the sooner you can start saving for them the less you will have to save each month, recognize that your situation will determine when you are able to start saving. Delaying when saving for education may mean you need to take out more in loans. Delaying saving for home ownership or retirement may mean you have to wait longer to buy a house or work longer before you retire. These are your choices to make.
Confidence comes with knowing you have done your research, consulted with professionals, examined your current situation, made some predictions for future saving opportunities, and recognized that as life unfolds you can adjust your plans.
Making the decision to pay down debt, particularly consumer debt, can be mixed with emotion. You feel good about choosing to take concrete steps to pay off balances on credit cards, auto loans, student loans or other installment loans. On the other hand, you feel less positive about the amount of money you are directing into a savings account. Well, we’re here to show you how reducing debt is a form of saving, to give you strategies for the best way to do so that align with your personal situation, and to boost your financial confidence to keep you working toward your goals.
As you pay off your debt you are freeing up money, allowing you to direct those funds toward saving for something else that’s important to you – perhaps an emergency/opportunity fund, a vacation, home purchase, or retirement. This money is freed up as you spend less on interest, and possibly late fees, and lowering the debt balances themselves.
If you have more than one debt you want to pay off, for example an auto loan and a credit card balance, there are two main strategies to help you decide which debt to pay off first.
You choose which method is right for you and your situation.
Once you are on a path to reducing your debt, reflect on the type of relationship you have with credit. Credit is a tool. When used wisely and with purpose, credit can help you achieve your financial goals and build financial confidence. Having a clear view on when and for what purpose you use credit is the foundation for a positive relationship.
Sometimes we’re told that there are good types of debt (home mortgage) and bad debt (credit cards). This type of categorization is based only on the financial aspect and not the personal situation you are dealing with. It may feel better to ask yourself if the type of debt you are taking on is a good decision for you or not.
For example, when an emergency expense crops up and it is large enough that it will deplete all or nearly all of your emergency savings, you may feel like you’re on shaky ground if another expense crops up before you can replenish your savings. So, you may weigh this option against using a combination of savings and credit based on what feels best for you in the situation.
Making purposeful choices about credit, something that you plan for financially and mentally, can help you build more financial confidence.
You can use the America Saves Spending and Saving Tool to calculate how much you have available for debt repayment, take the America Saves Pledge to make a plan for this repayment, or listen to the ThinkLikeASaver Podcast for even more tips.
Saving. Do you view it as an ongoing journey? Or do you consider saving as someplace you arrive at? At America Saves we are in the camp that saving is a habit, not a destination. And it’s a habit that can be formed at any age. Whether you are a parent trying to instill this habit in your children or you want to change your own saving behaviors, there are strategies that savers of all ages can develop.
Research tells us that children’s money habits are often formed by age seven so starting early to teach them about saving can have a huge impact. Many parents are accustomed to hearing frequent requests from their children about a toy, game, or piece of clothing that they “just have to have.” Sound familiar? Using these wants is a great way to help children learn to save.
Children can learn to set a saving goal and figure out how long it will take to save enough money for their goal. Create a fun system to track progress, provide regular encouragement, and use incentives such as matching funds. Talk about how it feels to see your money grow. And don’t forget to lead by example – show children how you are saving.
You can also give children the opportunity to make some decisions about their money. Empowering children from a young age to make choices about money they earn or receive as gifts is a great way to build that confidence.
For young adults, as they begin to earn a regular and potentially higher income, a strong foundation begins with basic understanding of the difference between needs and wants. The America Saves Spending and Saving Tool is an easy-to-use resource that provides a clear view of your finances and can be insightful in identifying essential and discretionary spending. The system of automatic saving, especially through paychecks with split deposit, can set young adults on the path to a lifelong saving habit.
It can be hard to stay motivated when setting aside money for something in the future no matter what your age. It’s easy to focus on what you want in the moment — we don’t want to wait to purchase that expensive pair of sneakers. We want to take a trip in the next three months. Retirement is so far off that it feels OK to spend more of your current income right now and catch up later. In each of these scenarios, we aren’t thinking about our future selves, just who we are and what we want today.
Thinking of our future self – what we will want, what we will be doing, what we will believe – is one way we can develop a saving mindset. Asking questions about our future selves helps us create a vision for our future. For example, consider:
Later go back and read your answers to see how they compare to the present. Having the ability to look ahead, even if it’s a short time in the future, is a great way to reinforce saving today for tomorrow. This exercise can be done at any age, even with children.
Journeys can take us on many different paths and saving journeys are no different. So stay with America Saves as you and your family embark on a new journey or resume one that encountered a detour. It’s never too late to #ThinkLikeASaver.
Last updated February 21, 2023