Here’s a little secret about saving money: If you condition yourself to do it regularly—and if possible, automatically—you will adjust very quickly to having slightly less money in your take-home pay. In fact, you probably won’t even notice that whatever portion you’re subtracting from the “old” amount is gone, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised a few months or years later when you see your tidy little nest egg.
Promoting and demystifying saving are the primary motivators of the annual America Saves Week (ASW), which runs from February 25-March 2, 2019. Now in its 13th year, the week is dedicated to teaching low- and middle-income households how to reduce their debt and secure their finances for any inevitable rainy days. The event’s sponsor, the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), is comprised of more than 270 education and advocacy groups focused on helping people achieve greater financial security and literacy.
ASW provides toolkits for a variety of organizations—everything from schools and banks to nonprofits and government agencies—that help get the message out to their employees and constituents that saving money doesn’t have to be impossible, even for those folks who have become accustomed to living from paycheck to paycheck. The endeavor encourages people to take the America Saves Pledge that allows you to tailor a savings plan to your precise needs and goals. Those who sign up receive motivational tips and texts about different types of saving, and they’re invited to share their success stories with other signees.
One important tip is to take advantage of services that help you save automatically. One way to accomplish this is by directing your employer to deduct a certain amount from your paycheck and deposit it into a savings or retirement account. Another way to save automatically is through your bank or financial institution. Many banks offer automatic savings programs that transfer an amount each month from your checking account to a savings account. By saving automatically, you won’t be tempted to keep that extra cash in your wallet, where it will be as good as gone as soon as you pocket it.
More tips include strategies for preparing for retirement, budgeting around holidays or tax time, eliminating debt, and anticipating upcoming expenses such as college tuition. ASW also partners with groups such as the Social Security Administration to encourage consumers to take a closer look at their financial snapshots and make the necessary adjustments.
So back to that secret: Among the keys to saving well are to begin doing it immediately and to force yourself to be consistent. If you have a 401(k) or similar defined contribution plan, put an extra 1 percent in there. If your money is in the bank, move an extra $20-$50 per pay period into a savings account. As a Colorado PERA member, you may even have savings options you aren’t yet aware of, so ask your employer or give us a call at 1-800-759-7372. You’ll be surprised how diverting a few bucks today can give you a priceless sense of financial security tomorrow.