Are you saving enough money for the future? If you’re like most Americans, the answer is probably “no.”
It’s an unfortunate fact that the national rate of savings is lower than it needs to be. A January report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis found that the U.S. savings rate, as a percent of personal income, was just 2.4% in December 2017—the lowest monthly mark since September 2005.
But to talk of the “national savings rate” is an abstraction that fails to capture the real anxiety that comes from having an inadequate savings cushion. Most Americans feel the pinch in a more concrete and personal way, when they worry they may not have enough put aside to pay unexpected auto or medical expenses, to pay for a child’s education, or to fund a secure and comfortable retirement.
The good news is that you can do better: Improving your personal savings picture is a decision you can control, and it starts with making a commitment to put more money aside and making a habit of saving.
Promoting the importance of a savings habit is the purpose of America Saves Week (February 26-March 3, 2018), a national public awareness campaign involving non-profit, government and corporate groups working together to encourage Americans to get on the road to financial security by saving more.
Coordinated by the nonprofit organizations America Saves and the America Savings Education Council, America Saves Week was launched in 2007 to encourage people to assess their own savings behaviors and to take positive steps to improve their savings status.
This year’s America Saves Week campaign is centered on a series of daily themes geared toward encouraging positive saving behaviors, as follows:
Monday, February 26: Save with a plan
- Savers with a plan can be over twice as likely to save successfully for things like retirement and their education. Start your savings habit during America Saves week by creating a simple savings plan.
Tuesday, February 27: Save the easy way…automatically
- It can be hard to put aside money for savings, but there is an easy way to save money without ever missing it by making your savings automatic in 2018. Already saving automatically? Find ways to automate other aspects of your financial life this year.
Wednesday, February 28: Save for rainy days
- A rainy day fund consists of a small amount of money in a savings account separate from your checking that you do not have easy access to. Saving for this fund starts with small, regularly scheduled contributions that build up over time.
Thursday, March 1: Save to retire
- Saving now for retirement will ensure you have enough money to have a comfortable standard of living when you stop working or reduce the amount of hours you work. Participate in a work-related retirement program such as a 401(k) or open an Individual Retirement Account (or IRA). Already saving for retirement? We recommend increasing the amount you save toward retirement by 1%.
Friday, March 2: Save the extra
- We’re more likely to save a windfall than a small amount consistently over a long period of time. Hack that psychology by saving your bonuses, raises, and tax refunds. This tax season, get ahead of your financial goals by saving at least $50.
Saturday, March 3: Save as a family
- Good savings habits start at home. Whether you’re budgeting, saving, making retirement decisions, or assessing workplace benefits, share the choices you make with your children, no matter their age.
There’s a wealth of information at the America Saves site to help you get started on setting goals, developing a plan and building better savings habits. Visit the America Saves resource library for more ideas on how to boost your retirement accounts, college savings accounts, emergency funds and more.
Improving your own household’s savings performance is an important step toward building a sense of financial capability, protecting yourself against unanticipated expenses and even learning how to build a surplus for investing. Savers who manage to set aside even a few hundred or a couple of thousand dollars extra are likely to find their sense of financial anxiety growing lighter as they take control of their financial lives. If you’ve been putting off building up your nest egg because you weren’t sure how to start, then take advantage of America Saves Week to make a new commitment to building positive financial habits.