The idea of saving money can be an intimidating concept for some Americans. Having money saved and available can provide security in the event of an emergency and even reduce stress in everyday life. However, studies have shown that one out of three Americans does not have sufficient savings to cover unexpected expenses.
According to the America Saves Week website (http://www.americasavesweek.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/aswinfographic.jpg), most Americans do not have a savings plan with specific goals. They also don’t have a spending plan that allows for an adequate amount of saving.
This is the 10th year of America Saves Week, which creates an opportunity to promote savings and encourages people to assess their own savings status. It will take place February 22-27.
When saving, it’s important to remember that it’s ok to start small. Anything that you can afford to save can go a long way in your financial security, said Elizabeth Kiss, associate professor in the Department of Family Studies and Human Services at Kansas State University
“We tend to think in big terms, but it doesn’t have to be big; it can be quite small,” said Kiss, a K-State Research and Extension family resource management specialist. “I could save even $5 a pay period. It’s the idea of living below your means, spending less than you earn even if it’s only $5.”
While it’s important to save, Kiss said it’s just as important to spend your money intentionally. Eighty percent of Americans admit to impulse spending, which can hinder financial security.
She said to always ask yourself these questions before making a purchase: “If I do this, is it contributing to my goals? How will I then have to do something different to still meet my goals? Am I willing now to change those habits and put some money aside?”
Saving a substantial amount of money can take time; that is why it’s important to stay consistent and get into the habit of saving money each month. With today’s banking technology, saving is simpler than ever and doesn’t require much work on your end.
“When you’ve figured out how much you can realistically save on a regular basis, think about automating it,” Kiss said. “Direct deposits can be split into more than one account, so you might have the bulk of your money going into a checking account. Then maybe the $5 or $20 a pay period is going into a savings account or other account to help you increase your savings.”
Save your raise
There is no better time to start saving than now, Kiss said. With many Americans getting raises coming into the new year, and with tax refund money on the way, it’s the perfect time to start a meaningful savings plan.
“If you have new money coming in, think about applying part of that to some savings,” she said. “If you get a tax refund, we encourage people to put aside a bit to have fun, and then think about how the rest of it can help you achieve your long-term goals.”
The America Saves Week website (http://www.americasavesweek.org/) has many resources to help you start saving today. The following saving strategies will be promoted throughout the week:
• Feb. 22: Save automatically
• Feb. 23: Assess your savings
• Feb. 24: Save for retirement
• Feb. 25: Save for emergencies
• Feb. 26: Saving at tax time
• Feb. 27: Pay off high-interest debt
Follow the hashtag #ASW2016 for savings tips on social media. Although saving tips are promoted Feb. 22-27, America Saves (http://www.americasaves.org/) and Kansas Saves (http://www.kansassaves.org/) websites operate year-round with valuable savings information. You can also use these websites to pledge to save and sign up to get savings tips through text messages.