EXTENSION CORNER: CCE-Yates County celebrates America Saves Week

Cornell Cooperative Extension-Yates County
Special to The Chronicle-Express

America Saves Week, Feb. 22-26, is an annual opportunity for individuals to assess their savings and take financial action. This year, CCE-Yates County is encouraging the community to take a moment to focus on the importance of emergency savings and saving automatically and to better prepare citizens for the unexpected, like the Covid-19 pandemic.

This America Saves Week, try these five simple steps to help yourself save automatically- and successfully:

-- Monday, Feb. 22: Save Automatically

What is the easiest way to save? Automatically! It does not matter what you are saving for, when you will make the smart decision to have a portion of your income automatically deposited into a savings account, you have increased your chances for success. Having a “set it and forget it” approach to saving increases your success rate. The two best ways to save automatically are:

• Split Deposit: Have your employer direct a certain amount from your paycheck each pay period and transfer it to a retirement or savings account (or both). Traditionally, you can set this up using your employer’s direct deposit, ask your HR representative for more details, and set this up today.

• Automatic Bank Transfer: Every payday, your bank or credit union transfers a fixed amount from your checking account to a savings or investment account. Talk to your local bank or credit union to set this up.

Over time, these automatic deposits add up. For example, $50 a month accumulates to $600 a year and $3,000 after five years, plus interest! Whether saving for an emergency fund, education expenses, retirement, or all things in between, by making saving automatic, our community is in the best possible position to reach any savings goal.

--Tuesday, Feb. 23: Save for the Unexpected

This past year has taught us that we must be as prepared as possible for the unexpected. While we all have future savings goals, having an emergency fund to support present unaccounted for needs, like a car breakdown, dental bill, or even a last-minute fun treat should be a top priority.

Looking to grow your emergency fund? Take the America Saves Pledge and commit to successfully building an emergency fund of just $500. Embrace the “Start Small and Save Big” mentality.

--Wednesday, Feb. 24: Save to Retire

It is never too soon to prepare for retirement. The earlier you start to prepare, the easier it is to save. Preparing for retirement can easily be pushed into the “someday” category, as we focus on present needs and expenses. Because we know that very few Americans have a plan for retirement savings that is adequate for their desired standard of living after they retire, today is to focus on the importance of setting aside time to understand your retirement needs and planning to meet them.

--Thursday, Feb. 25: Save by Reducing Debt

It is time we recognize that by paying down their debt, Americans ARE saving! Actively reducing your debt means you are saving on interest, avoiding late fees, and maintaining or increasing your credit score. On this day, it is important to remember that reducing debt should be acknowledged and celebrated as a form of saving and a component of your financial plan.

--Friday, Feb. 26: Save as a Family

The best way to teach great money habits to our children is to model great money habits. While most Americans know the importance of making sound financial decisions, many feel that money management was not taught to them at a young age. Today let's encourage our communities to be creative and intentional about finding ways to teach children about money, spending habits, and saving.

Since 2007, America Saves Week, coordinated by America Saves and its partners, 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 our local communities to do a "gut-check" on their finances and saving behaviors. The America Saves pledge is the framework that allows savers to set a goal and plan to achieve better financial stability. To take the pledge, or to learn more information, visit https://americasavesweek.org.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Yates County provides a 1:1 Life Skills program to 20 income-eligible families. Eligible families are provided with education, tools, tips, and available community resources to help them gain greater financial independence, knowledge, skills, and confidence. Cornell Cooperative Extension of Yates County also partners with several agencies to provide Life Skills Workshops to adults. For more information, contact Vallie Castner (Community Educator) at 315-536-5123.

America Saves Week is Feb. 20-26