Create savings plan, set financial goals during America Saves Week
Feb. 27, 2023
By Rebekah Hall
U of A System Division of Agriculture
- America Saves Week is Feb. 27-March 3
- Set short-term and long-term savings goals, save by paying down debt
- Identify and save for major milestones
(Newsrooms: With art at https://flic.kr/p/2ojjgaP)
LITTLE ROCK — For many people, saving money can appear so daunting that it might seem impossible. America Saves Week, which runs Feb. 27-March 3, is designed to help Americans set a savings goal and make a plan to achieve it.
America Saves Week asks participants to pause and conduct a financial check-in. To join and follow along with the Cooperative Extension Service and other America Saves partner organizations, visit bit.ly/CES-America-Saves-Pledge.
Laura Hendrix, interim associate department head of Family and Consumer Sciences for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and an Accredited Financial Counselor, said that when conducting a financial check-in, it’s important to identify short-term, long-term and milestone savings goals and practice healthy financial habits.
An easy way to start saving money is to save automatically by having a portion of one’s paycheck deposited directly into a separate savings account. Hendrix said no amount of money is too small to begin saving.
“Saving automatically makes saving easier for most people,” Hendrix said. “If you never see it, you are less likely to spend it. Even small amounts can add up and help cover you in case of unexpected expenses.”
Short-term saving goals can include preparing for unexpected emergencies, such as car repairs or job loss, as well as saving for holiday gifts or a summer vacation. Hendrix said these funds need to be easily accessible, so keeping them in a savings account – some of which are interest-bearing – is the smartest move.
Hendrix said long-term savings goals may include “saving for retirement, saving for a down payment on a home, saving for a child’s college education or other goals that are years in the future.” Long-term savings funds also have more time to grow, so Hendrix typically recommends that this money is saved or invested in a place with higher earning potential.
When saving for major milestones, Hendrix said it’s important to “know as much as possible about what you are saving for and how much it would cost.”
“So, if you are saving for a home, think about what type of house you could realistically afford,” Hendrix said. “Determine the amount of money needed for a down payment and add a line item in your budget to save specifically for this.”
To learn more about achieving financial goals and begin setting action steps, check out the Getting Started with Financial Goals worksheet from the Cooperative Extension Service.
Paying down debt is also a form of saving money because by chipping away at debt, people can save money on the interest that would have accrued.
“When you think about revolving debt, such as credit cards, fees and interest continue to add up over time,” Hendrix said. “Also, most credit scores take into account the amount you owe compared to your credit limits, so paying down debt or paying off debt can improve your score. Paying additional to the principal can save thousands of dollars and take years off your mortgage.”
Never too early to start
Hendrix said it’s important to talk to children and young adults about healthy saving and spending habits because “most people learn about money management from their parents.”
“You are your child’s first and biggest role model in financial management,” she said. “Teaching and modeling good habits can help set your child on the path to financial success.”
For adults interested in changing their relationship with money – and the emotions surrounding finances – Hendrix said she suggested looking inward to what motivates purchases.
“Emotions and values influence consumer behavior,” Hendrix said. “Consumers are frequently bombarded with advertisements. Think about why you buy what you buy. When and where did you learn about money management? It’s never too late to educate yourself. Seek information from reliable sources. Examine your spending and saving habits. Strategies for behavior change can help.”
To learn more about personal finances, visit the Cooperative Extension Service’s Personal Finance page.
To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension. To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uada.edu. Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit https://uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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