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  • Archive for the ‘America Saves Week’ Category

    How do you save? Tips from WISER Women

    Saturday, February 28th, 2015

    America Saves Week

    This past week was America Saves Week, an annual event to encourage Americans to focus on saving and reexamine their own savings plans.

    As part of America Saves Week, WISER asked you to share with us your own tips, advice, and ways to save. We received submissions via Facebook, Twitter, and email. Below are some of the great tips and suggestions our readers offered that can help you increase your savings and reach your savings goals.



    1. Enroll in your bank’s “save the change” program, if they offer one. These programs will automatically round your purchases up to the nearest dollar and transfer the difference into a savings account. It can add up over time and is a great way to fund a savings account. You can also do this with physical change. It’s time to break out that piggy bank and save your coins! One reader even saves $5 bills every time she gets one.

    2. If you have only one savings account, consider opening another one. Set one account as a fund for emergencies ONLY. Create a second account for other savings. This method will allow you to save for big ticket items or holiday gifts each year, while reducing the temptation to dip into your emergency fund for anything other than emergencies.

    3. Budget, budget, budget! Make a monthly budget or spending plan that includes a line item for contributions to your savings accounts. Working it into your budget from the beginning will prevent you from thinking of it as available spending money. WISER has a budget worksheet to help with this.

    4. Lacking motivation? Create a card, poster, or other visual item that represents you and the life you want to live in retirement. Put it somewhere visible, like next to your computer or on your fridge so that when you are tempted to buy something, you’ll remember your future and ask yourself if the purchase is really necessary. You can even put a picture of your dream retirement on your credit card as a reminder before you use it.

    5. Teach your kids about finances and saving. Read them books about savings (like WISER’s book, Sonja Meets Her Future Self) to help them learn the difference between needs and wants, and why saving is important. You’re never too young to have a savings account, so think about helping them set one up.

    6. It can be tempting when you get that tax refund to spend it. Instead, put your refunds into your retirement or savings account. If you set it automatically to deposit into those accounts, you won’t even notice that extra cash or be tempted to spend it. WISER also recommends doing this with bonuses and other unexpected cash increases.

    7. Skip the morning coffee run and make your own. Bring a thermos with you to work. This way you can have coffee during your commute, or whenever you need it during the day. It may not seem like a lot, but those little daily purchases add up over time!And my money goes to...

    8. If you do buy something like coffee or lunch that you could have brought from home, rather than feeling guilty about it, match it! Put the same amount that you spent on the item into your savings. You’ll get instant gratification with your yummy treat, but also delayed gratification with more savings!

    9. Just like it’s okay to occasionally splurge on a diet, it’s okay to buy something fun every now and then while you’re saving. But just like a diet, you have to limit yourself and splurge within reason so that you don’t throw your goals completely off track. Try putting a line item in your budget for “extra expenses.” You can plan ahead for those splurges, and then you won’t blow your whole budget when you buy those really cute shoes, or dine out with friends. If you don’t use those funds one month, you can add it to the next month’s budget, or better yet, transfer the amount you didn’t spend into your savings.


    Thanks to our readers and followers who participated in America Saves Week. Do you have any other ideas? Let us know in the comments and share your savings wisdom. Let’s keep the spirit of saving alive all year long!

    Putting America Saves Week Into Action– Step 5: Save at Tax Time

    Friday, February 28th, 2014

    For my last blog for America Saves Week, the theme is “Save at Tax Time.”

    One simple way to save is to put away that tax refund. Resist the urge to spend it all and instead put some of it in your savings account or retirement fund. The IRS makes saving during tax time pretty simple. There is a specific form, an 8888, which allows you to split your refund between two accounts.

    I filed my taxes several weeks ago and already received my refund. Many people treat their tax refund as a windfall of money and spend it immediately. WISER instead encourages saving during tax time as it is a perfect time to add a little more to your savings. So when I filed my taxes, I sent my refund to my savings account. I choose to save all of my refund, partly because it was a pretty small amount to start, but also because I would rather have that money for a rainy day than splurge on something I do not absolutely need.

    Another great way to save at tax time is to make sure you get all the tax credits for which you are eligible. Common tax credits that are often overlooked by many who are eligible is the Saver’s Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

    While I do qualify for those tax credits, I did learn that I qualify for Free File. Free file allows tax payers whose income is below $58,000 to file taxes for free. The IRS links to professional software programs that assist you while completing the paperwork.
    Filing online worked for me because my taxes are pretty simple and I am very comfortable with technology, but if you do not think this is the right option for you there are other resources available to help during tax time. Many local libraries and other organizations particiapte in Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, which provides free tax help if you meet certain income requirements. If you are 60 years or older, you can also participate in the Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program, which specializes in questions about pensions and retirement issues that are unique to seniors. You do not have to face the complicate issue of taxes alone

    For more assistance tools, take a look at this website.

    Make sure you ask whoever helps you file your taxes how you can send part or all of your refund to a savings account or retirement fund (like that IRA we talked about setting up yesterday!).

    Thanks everyone! It was great going through the steps of America Saves Week with you! Keep on saving!

    Putting America Saves Week Into Action– Step 4: Save for Retirement

    Thursday, February 27th, 2014

    Thursday’s step for America Saves Week is saving for retirement. See? I told you we would revisit the topic!

    Women & Retirement FactsSaving for retirement is important for everyone, but women face unique challenges that often cause financial hardships during retirement. Women are twice as likely as men to be poor in retirement, and as they grow older they grow poorer. Since women live four years longer on average than men and are three times more likely to live alone, not having enough saved for retirement is a significant problem. WISER encourages everyone to start saving for retirement early, but even if you feel a little behind with your savings, it’s never too late to start.  Every step you take now can go a long way towards achieving a more financially secure future.

    One of the best solutions to increasing your retirement savings is to participate in your company’s 401(K) plans and maximize those benefits. Try to contribute enough to receive the company match. If you are already contributing that much, plan to increase the amount you contribute by 1% in 2014.

    For me, a company 401(K) is not currently an option. I work several jobs, but they are all part time so I do not qualify for company retirement plans. This situation is one that many women face. But it does not mean that you can’t open your own retirement account.

    Now, I can guess what you’re thinking. I write about retirement issues. How can I not have an account already set up?

    The truth is I have a lot of “reasons” to wait. I am only in my early 20s. I’m a graduate student with student loans. After tuition, books, rent, and food, every penny I can save usually goes towards paying interest on my loans so that when I graduate I do not have even more loans to pay. Graduation is right around the corner, and retirement just seemed like something I could get to later.

    Working at WISER certainly exposed me to reasons why this attitude could cost me in the long run, which is why I choose “Retirement” as my reason for participating in America Saves Week. Today, I decided enough with the excuses. Setting up a retirement account now does not cost me excessively, while delaying it hurts me in the long run.

    Where to start? My first step was to research the different type of retirement accounts. I found this article particularly helpful in explaining the difference between a Tradition and a Roth IRA. After reading that article and a few more, I decided on opening a Roth IRA. One of the main differences between Traditional and Roth is that with a Traditional IRA you contributions are tax deductible (tax free), but your withdrawals are taxed. In a Roth IRA, you pay taxes on your contributions, but withdrawals are tax free. This makes Roth IRAs ideal for someone who can expect to be in a higher tax bracket when she retires. Since I am just starting my career, I know that I will be in a higher tax bracket in forty years.

    My next step was to research where to open my account. I am a fan of the breakdown by NerdWallet, but make sure you do your own research. I chose an option that had no fees or minimums, but limited stock trading options.  This option works for me since I don’t plan on doing much trading.  Once you pick your financial institution, it’s a pretty simple process to open your IRA, but it can be a time consuming. I filled out all of my information online. It took roughly 30-45 minutes but that includes taking extra time to make sure all of the information was correct. And now I have an IRA!

    Based on yesterday’s theme, I also set up transfers to my IRA automatically. Because I am still concerned about my student loans, I chose to transfer only once a month. Like WISER says, start small and grow from there.


    About Us

    WISER is a nonprofit organization that works to help women, educators and policymakers understand the important issues surrounding women's retirement income. WISER creates a variety of consumer publications including fact sheets, booklets and a quarterly newsletter that explain in easy-to-understand language the complex issues surrounding Social Security, divorce, pay equity, pensions, savings and investments, banking, home-ownership, long-term care and disability insurance.

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