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How to Build a $1,000 Emergency Fund in 10 Months

By Katie Bryan

Do you have $1,000 set aside for emergencies? If you already do, you could probably use another $1,000 in that account. Experts recommend keeping at least three months expenses in a reliable, liquid account – though even an extra $1,000 can be a life-saver. But finding $1,000 to save isn’t always easy. That’s why we’ve put together this 4-step plan on how to save $1,000 in 10 months.

Get Started with These 4 Steps

  1. Find a Safe Place to Save Your Money – You will want to save your money in an account that you can access easily in case of an emergency. That means you should probably not keep this savings in a U.S. Savings Bond or in mutual funds. Choose a traditional savings account or a short-term certificate-of-deposit (CD), currently the most attractive accounts. (Early withdrawal penalties on a CD rarely lower the yield below that of a savings account.) Consider opening a new account or sub-account for this money so you’re not tempted to spend it. Most importantly, do not keep savings in a checking account, which pays no or low interest and is too easy to access.
  2. Save $100 a month – If you are already saving $100 a month, great! Skip to step 3. If not, you need to either earn $100 more a month or cut back in order to find that $100 to save. America Saves has a list of 54 ways to save money to get you started. It can also help to pay yourself first and save the $100 at the beginning of the month instead of waiting to see if you have money left over to save at the end of the month.
  3. Automate Your Savings – Setting up an automatic way to save is one of the best ways to save. Once you set it up, then it happens without having to think about it. Here are two ways to automate your savings. 1. Every pay period, ask your employer to deduct $100 from your paycheck and transfer it to a savings account. Ask your HR representative for more details and to set this up.  2.  Ask your bank or credit union to transfer $100 from your checking account to a savings account every month.  Talk to your local bank or credit union to set this up.
  4. Watch Your Savings Grow for 10 Months – The final step is to sit back and watch your savings grow. How often do you look at the calendar and think it’s half way through 2014 already? The same will apply to your savings; Before you know it you will have that $1,000. They key is not to touch the money unless you have an emergency – that’s what the money is there for after all.

Once you have at least $1,000 in your emergency account, continue your savings success and continue to build your emergency savings or apply that money to a new savings goal. Perhaps you have debt you need to pay down or want to save for a car or home.

No matter what you are saving for, America Saves can support you with tips and advice through emails and text messages. Sign up for these by taking the America Saves Pledge Today.

Katie Bryan works for America Saves, managed by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America (CFA), which seeks to motivate, encourage, and support low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth. Learn more at americasaves.org.

Starting a New Job? The Secret to Saving Money at Work

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By Katie Bryan, America Saves Communications Director

I have never been a particularly good saver. I wasn’t the child who stashed away babysitting money or saved money I received as gifts. But a series of important (and lucky) decisions has helped me build my savings since I started my first job.

When I started my first full-time job my employer took the time to sit down with me and explain how their retirement plan worked and how I could easily sign up for it. She also explained that they would match my savings, dollar for dollar, on the first 5 percent that I put in from my paycheck. If I didn’t put any money in the plan, I would be missing out on the free matching funds. It made the decision to open the account easy. Now years later that fund has grown to more than I ever could have imagined when I opened it.

You too can begin to build wealth at work through these simple strategies:

Start Small. Think Big.

If you are starting your first job, or just starting to save, starting small is a great way to begin to save. Whether it’s 5 percent of your paycheck or $25 a week, those small savings will add up over time. If you can save even more that’s great! For example, if you save only $50 a month (earning 2 percent interest compounded monthly) you will have over $36,000 in 40 years.

If you need some additional motivation to save take the America Saves pledge, where you can choose a savings goal, create a plan to reach it, and receive tips and advice.

Automate Your Savings

Once you decide how much to save, set up an automatic savings plan. Your employer can help you set up direct deposit and you can choose to have the amount you want to save put directly into a savings or share account before you get your paycheck. This is the best way to save because once you make the decision to do so, it just happens without having to think about it.

Participate in Workplace Retirement Plans

You can also save automatically through a work-sponsored retirement plan or through a Roth IRA if your work doesn’t have a plan. Check to see if you work offers any matching funds and make sure you save enough to take full advantage.

Gradually Increase Your Contributions

This strategy works well no matter how much you are saving. Each year take a look at how much you are saving and slowly increase that amount. A great time to make these changes is at the end of the year or during tax time. This works especially well if you expect to receive a pay increase, a cost of living increase, or a tax refund.

Implement these simple strategies for saving at work and watch the savings grow.

America Saves, a campaign managed by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America, seeks to motivate, encourage, and support low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth. Learn more at americasaves.org

Not sure if you are saving in all the right places? Assess your progress today with this new tool. 

Free Virtual Financial Event for Recent College Graduates

If you’re new to the workforce or graduating college this spring, attend a free webinar sponsored by the Department of Labor where you’ll learn to plan for your financial future.

You’ll learn about tools for budgeting, student loan repayment options and how to make the most of employer-provided retirement and health benefits.   

Sign up now and join the event Friday at 1 p.m. ET.

5 Easy Ways to Get Involved in America Saves Week and Save Successfully

 By Katie Bryan, America Saves Communications Director.

America Saves Week February 24 – March 1, 2014 is chance for individuals to assess their savings and take financial action. Did you know that only half of Americans report having good savings habits? Now is the time to take action and Set a Goal. Make a Plan. Save Automatically. Take the time this week to select a savings goal and create a plan to save for it.

 Here are 5 easy ways to get involved in America Saves Week:

1. Pledge to Save

Those with a savings plan are twice as likely to save for emergencies and retirement than those without a plan. Join over 350,000 people who have already committed to save. When you take the pledge you can also choose to receive text message tips and reminders to help you save for your goal.

2. Assess Your Savings

Find out if you are saving in all the right places with this new interactive 12-step savings tool.

3. Saver Checklist: Evaluate Your Savings Preparedness

This checklist is made up of characteristics of successful savers, which include debt management. It can serve as a useful starting point for evaluating one’s savings preparedness.

4. Share Your Savings Goal

People save more successfully when they have a goal in mind. That’s why we’ve created posters so you can put your savings goal into perspective and share it.

5. Share Savings Tips and Advice with Family and Friends

On Twitter and Facebook? Share these social media posts (WORD doc) with your friends and followers to encourage them to save.

America Saves Week is coordinated by America Saves and the American Savings Education Council. Started in 2007, the Week is an annual opportunity for organizations to promote good savings behavior and a chance for individuals to assess their own saving status