Most people would probably think if you’re in the fundraising business, it’s not wise to talk about saving money. United Way of Wilson County is in the business of fundraising, but we do so because of our first priority, and that is helping people.
I’ll be the first to say that on my salary, it’s hard to save, but I do know how important it is to have a savings plan.
With that in mind I thought I’d pass on something that’s come across my desk recently. In an effort to encourage individuals and families to make savings a priority, a growing number of communities are participating in a national social marketing effort created by the Consumer Federation of America, America Saves.
The overall goal of America Saves is to increase the value that institutions and individuals, especially the financially vulnerable, place on saving and wealth building. A stronger, more widespread saving ethic will encourage people to build savings and assets, greatly improving their financial stability.
Through the America Saves campaign, communities offer information and encouragement, as well as tools and resources, to help individuals and families develop savings goals as well as a plan for achieving those goals. To date, the campaign has engaged more than 50 communities, 1,000 organizations, and 70,000 individual savers.
Incredibly, the country’s personal savings rate in 2006 was a negative 1 percent, the lowest in 73 years. Though savings is important for individuals and families at all income levels, it is especially critical for helping low-to moderate-income families, who often have no assets or access to credit, remain financially stable during changes in income precipitated by illness, job loss or other events.
While most recognize the importance of saving, they are often pessimistic about their ability to do so. America Saves was created to motivate people to save and demonstrate that they are capable of reaching their savings goals.
So what can you do? Look at your bills every month. In most cases, there is at least one bill that you can reduce. Television subscriptions, cellphone usage, even cutting back the thermostat in the winter, if possible, are all potential money savers. There’s no better time to start saving than when you’re young. Despite the thought that there is plenty of time to put off saving, there’s no better time than the present and the snowballing effect that takes place happens much more efficiently when you begin saving even a small amount early on in your life.
You can’t bury your head in the sand. If you have the attitude that everything will work out, you’re living in a dream. Very few things come without planning, effort and a lot of hard work. Faith in good deeds is always more productive when planning your future. Sure, we can’t all have the same level of prosperity. However, it is possible to have a small nest egg and an emergency fund for those times when things go wrong.
Interested in more tips? Visit americasaves.org for financial plans and other resources.
John McMillin is president of the United Way of Wilson County. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.