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Succes Online Financial Education Newsletter
Money Management International Improving Lives Through Financial Education
SUCESS NewsletterFinancial Education Newsletter
 
Simple steps lead to big saving

Save money

By Jessica Horton, Copywriter

One in four Americans has more credit card debt than emergency savings, according to a new poll by Bankrate.com.

Studies show that 21 percent of Americans — 38 percent of those with incomes less than $25,000 — think that winning the lottery represents the most practical way for them to accumulate several hundred thousand dollars.

According to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), 64 percent of Americans would have to go into debt or sell off possessions to cover a $1,000 emergency, due to lack of savings.

It’s startling numbers like these that inspired America Saves Week, a national campaign aimed to encourage individuals and families to build wealth by saving money. Because most Americans today are not saving adequately for retirement, and most lower-income households do not have adequate emergency savings for unexpected expenditures, the message accompanying this national movement is needed now more than ever.

It’s no secret that tough economic times can make saving difficult, which is why America Saves Week 2012, running Feb. 19 to Feb. 26, is focused on a simple set of instructions that – if followed – can make anyone a successful saver. The instructions may sound basic, but they are the foundation for financial success: Set a goal. Make a plan. Save automatically.

  • Set a Goal. You can save more by having a goal in mind. Visualizing what you want to save for gives your savings a purpose. You may be tempted to withdraw from your savings if it has no purpose. But once you have a goal in place, you know that taking money out of your savings is taking away from that ultimate goal. So, what are you saving for?
  • Make a Plan. Once you have your goal in place, make a plan of how you are going to save. To start, cut down on your spending and reduce high-cost debt. Next, keep track of what you spend and make a budget. Once you know where your money is going each month, you can cut down on unneeded spending and save the difference. Don’t forget to keep your savings safe, secure, and growing. Banks, credit unions and even the government offer a variety of financial products that can help you save.
  • Save Automatically. It can be hard to put aside money for savings. But there is an easy way to save money without ever missing it. Once you know how much you can save, make saving automatic. Many employers allow you to divide your paycheck into different accounts through direct deposit. Take advantage by putting part of your pay into a savings account. If you get paid in cash, take a small amount to the bank to deposit into a savings account each week.

Knowing what you want to save for, how to achieve it and then making the savings process automatic will allow you to reach your savings goal. Visit AmericaSaves.org to find more information about America Saves Week. There, you can find savings strategies and you can take the pledge to become an American Saver.

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How much should I put aside for emergencies?

Use this calculator to determine how much you should be saving 

It's always important to have a rainy-day fund. Especially because one of the biggest budget-breakers can be unplanned life events. This calculator shows how much you need to save, in aggregate and on a monthly basis, to create a reserve fund for unanticipated expenses or loss of income.

 

Emergency savings 

 

Emergency savings calculator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Your savings questions answered

We address some frequent
personal-finance inquiries

When it comes to personal savings, consumers have a lot of questions. So in honor of America Saves Week, the financial experts at Money Management International (MMI) address a few frequently asked savings questions:

Why should I save for retirement?

Many Americans look forward to their retirement years, which can be a time for traveling, spending time with family, or enjoying a vacation home. In order to enjoy your retirement to the fullest, you’ll need to have an appropriate level of savings to get you through many years without a steady stream of income. Previous generations relied on Social Security and company pensions for their retirement income; however, those income streams have decreased over the last few decades. Now, most Americans save for their retirement in a 401(k) plan, named for the section of the tax code that allows employees to save money on a tax-free basis. 

What is an emergency fund and why do I need one?

An emergency fund is a savings cushion available to you in the case of a financial emergency. There are many situations where you may need to rely on your emergency fund, including: job loss or other reduction of income, health emergencies, automobile repair, and home repairs. If any of these financial emergencies happen to you, an emergency fund can save you from falling into debt.

How should I review my personal savings plan to make sure I’m on track?

First, review your savings vs. your goals. This is especially important for longterm savings, such as college savings and retirement savings. In addition to the account balances, you should also review your investment strategies. As your goals become more short-term, make sure you that your investments reflect this. If you aren’t sure how much you should be saving, you may want to work with a professional financial planner. Next, request free copies of your credit reports and make sure that your credit accurately reflects your situation. Now is the time to correct any errors that may exist. In addition, if you have any negative accurate information on your credit report, take the time to figure out how to repair your credit.

Can I borrow from my 401(k)?

If you are like most people, your 401(k) account represents your largest savings account. When you need to access funds in a personal financial crisis, it’s understandable why you would consider borrowing from your 401(k) account or withdrawing from your 401(k) or IRA. After all, it’s your own money. Plus, in the case of a loan, the interest paid goes into your retirement account. But before you tap into your 401(k), you should understand how borrowing works and know your options. Withdrawing from your retirement account prematurely isn't usually recommended, and should only be done when you have no other choice.

 


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Update your account balances online. When you receive your monthly statement from your creditors, login to your MMI account and update your balances. It is important that we have the most accurate balance information possible on file. 

If you would like more information about signing up for a Debt Management Plan through Money Management International, visit MoneyManagement.org.


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About Money Management International

Money Management International (MMI) is a nonprofit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling, and debt management assistance to consumers since 1958. MMI helps consumers trim their expenses, develop a spending plan, and repay debts. Counseling is available by appointment in branch offices and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by telephone and Internet. Services are available in English or Spanish. To learn more, call
866.530.9869 or visit MoneyManagement.org.

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