The last week in February marked the 7th annual America Saves Week, a cooperative effort among financial institutions, non-profits, bloggers and other groups to inform Americans about their personal finances and help consumers save more. As a participating organization, NerdWallet worked to get the word out about the benefits of saving, and how to accomplish your financial goals. Below are our top savings tips for every life stage. Read on to learn more:
Learning to save can start at a young age
Most of us think of saving money as a necessity reserved for adults, but younger generations can take part as well. In fact, teaching kids about saving money at an early age will also help them to succeed later in life. Framing lessons in kid-friendly ways through games or characters is often a good way to get a conversation started. Consider Smoky Bear teaching children about how to avoid forest fires. Kids: check out some savings tips from credit union mascots!
Let them practice
The best way to hone a skill is through plenty of practice. Savings skills are no different. Give your child a reasonable allowance and help to set monthly and yearly savings goals. You may even want to open a savings account together. Many banks and credit unions offer accounts just for kids (for example, Alliant Credit Union’s Kidz Klub Savings Account). These accounts allow your child’s money to earn interest in a safe location while also teaching them valuable lessons about the benefits of saving.
Hone your financial skills whenever possible
Developing financial security is a learning process for us all, and part of learning is studying. Luckily, “studying” in this case doesn’t have to be boring. Simple conversations about finances with friends and family can help expand your understanding of essential topics. Find out what you need to brush up on with NerdWallet’s Financial Literacy Quiz.
College students: know where to go for your best banking option
We know – students have enough on their plate without spending the time to research different bank accounts. However, going with the bank or credit union that offers the lowest fees and the best student perks can give a serious boost to your balance. Be warned, the big bank on campus is not always your best bet, so think outside the box, like a local university credit union. Read more tips on how to pick a student checking account.
Do as they say, not as they do
Despite the best intentions, many Americans are still struggling to save in the face of large debts and economic uncertainty. Remember that just because others aren’t always saving in these tough times doesn’t mean you should follow suit. Be a good example for your family and community by committing to save more.
Planning to move? Consider the cost of living
Prices for food, housing, transportation and entertainment can vary widely from city to city. This means that a comfortable living wage in one location may be scarcely enough to get by in another. If you’re planning to move for a job in the near future, consider how the move will affect your current financial standing. Will your new wage be enough to live on and continue to save for the future? Compare the cost of living between cities for more detail.
Be prepared for emergencies
You never know when a medical emergency or sudden job loss might occur, so it’s always best to be prepared with some extra cash. Take the time to plan and save ahead, with at least a few months of basic living expenses socked away. Learn more about saving for a rainy day.
Teamwork is essential for families and couples
Financial woes, and how couples choose to handle them, can truly make or break a relationship. Experts agree that when it comes to managing money while in a committed relationship, communication and teamwork are some of the most important qualities. Here are more money management tips for couples looking to save more in 2013.
Stop throwing away your hard-earned money on checking fees
You may be surprised to find out just how much your bank is charging you for a basic checking account. The biggest US banks can charge an average of nearly $120 per year for their basic accounts, unless you meet minimum balance or other usage requirements. Luckily, with thousands of FREE checking accounts out there at community banks, credit unions and online banks, there’s no reason why you should ever pay a monthly fee. Search for the best free checking account and start saving money now.
Know your options
The choice of where to save your money is not always an easy one. Two common options, a savings account and a certificate of deposit, are often hot contenders for being your best (low-risk) bet. As with many questions, there’s no one right answer, but considering the trade-offs between CDs and high yield savings accounts can help you make the best choice for your own savings goals.
Don’t settle for anything but the best savings interest rates
Having a lot of money saved up is certainly a major achievement, but what’s even better is letting that cash work for itself. If you settle for a low yield on your balances, you’re passing up some significant interest earnings each month that you save. Find the best rates on savings, CDs and money market accounts near you with our rates tool.
Image: meddygarnet / Flickr source