Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., CFP®
Extension Specialist in Financial Resource Management
Rutgers Cooperative Extension
The Cooperative Extension System hosted a series of four Twitter chats in February focused on saving money. Each chat had five questions for participants to respond to in short tweets of 140 characters or less. Many of the tweets took a “small steps” approach to saving money and building wealth over time. Below is a summary of some of the key ideas and suggestions that were provided during the Twitter chat discussions:
- Factors That Help People Save Money - “Paying yourself first” via automatic savings, direct deposit, having a reason (goal) to save, saving loose change, tracking expenses, and putting savings in a budget.
- Obstacles That Prevent People From Saving - High living costs, poor health, lack of discipline, taxes on savings interest, overspending, mistrust of financial institutions, and not knowing where to save.
- How Much Money People Should Save - At least 10% of gross income, the amount needed for future financial goals, until cash flow is restricted, whatever a person can afford and increasing it over time.
- Good Saving Motivational Strategies - Save $1 a day plus loose change, join the America Saves program, have a reason (goal) to save, save the monthly payment previously spent on a loan that is paid off or a household expense that ends, tell others about savings goals to have them hold you accountable.
- Best Place to Put Savings - Credit unions and online banks for highest annual percentage yield (APY), a certificate of deposit (CD) “ladder” with different maturities and interest rates, and loose change in a jar.
- Good Savings Information Resources -
- Single Best Action to Save Money - Avoid impulse buying, automatic transfer from checking account to savings account, taking advantage of an employer match on retirement savings, paying off credit cards as quickly as possible, saving loose change, plugging spending leaks, and automatic savings deposits.
- Good Savings Role Models - Parents, siblings, teachers, and other influential adults, financially responsible siblings and friends, and reformed over-spenders who turned their financial lives around and started saving (for actual examples, see http://www.americasaves.org/for-savers/saver-stories).
- Ways to Decrease Spending to “Find” Money to Save - Buy regular coffee versus fancy lattes, refinance mortgage, adjust thermostat to reduce home energy bills, pack a lunch and bring beverages to work or school, make small cuts to all variable expenses, serve smaller food portions, shop at factory outlets and thrift shops instead of department stores, clip coupons, and ask for utility company discounts.
- Ways to Increase Income to “Find” Money to Save - Review tax withholding and adjust W-4 form, be visible and valuable at work to earn raises, sell things you don’t need online or at garage sales or consignment shops, and get credit card points for normal spending (food, gas) and save rewards checks.
- Government and Community Programs That Help People Save - The America Saves program, individual development accounts (IDAs), Cooperative Extension Web sites and public programs, savings programs for students, and direct deposit of tax refunds using IRS Form 8888.