Go for it: It’s America Saves Week
By Dian Vujovich
It seems as though we all need reminders when it comes to money. Whether it’s don’t forget to diversify your holdings, save for retirement or make sure to secure a rainy day fund to cover those unexpected expenses that crop up when we least expect them, reminders serve a purpose. On that note, in case you may not have noticed this week is America Saves Week.
Okay, So I’m a day late in writing about it—the official dates extend from February 26 to March 2—but my excuse is that this money week hasn’t been around all that long. Only six years to be exact. A flimsy excuse, no doubt. But aren’t all when it comes to not saving?
It’s no secret that Americans haven’t always been so hot at saving. In fact, I came across some research from a Wall St 24/7 story dated two years ago that addressed just how poor we Americans are at that task when compared to those who live in other countries.
According to data collected for the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Dedication story, titled “The Ten Countries Where People Save the Most Money”, there were 10 countries on the globe where residents saved 9 percent or more of their disposable incomes. At the time, U.S. citizens were saving 5.8 percent.
While you’ll probably be surprised by all of the countries making the top 10 list, let me whet your competitive edge whistle with the names of the top four. They are—beginning with the country where savings were the highest– Ireland, France, Spain and Belgium. Residents in Ireland, saved over 19 percent of their disposable income; in Belgium more than 12 percent.
So how did those Irish lads and lassies do it? From the 24/7Wall St. piece comes this: “Ireland was once the healthiest and fastest growing economy in Europe. That changed during the recession. In 2006, the Irish government had a budget surplus of 2.9% of GDP. In 2010, it accrued a staggering deficit of 32.4% of GDP. As the country’s debt grew and record unemployment was reached, citizens began saving a much higher portion of their disposable income…”
Given the miserable economic state of affairs the United States is in, and our low personal savings rate—it’s now about 6.5 percent—perhaps it’s time to pull a page from Ireland’s savings playbook and encourage ourselves to save more. Heaven knows most of us need to.
If there’s one point the creators of America Saves Week drive home, it’s that the first step to successful savings is having a specific goal in mind. Without a goal, sticking to a savings plan can quickly and easily go off track.
So can the excuses— like my kid’s college costs are eating up all of my disposable income, I don’t make enough to save or retirement is so very far off— and accept the fact that having money tomorrow means saving some today.
As for how much money one needs to save for tomorrow—well, that’s a subject for another day. Right now, it’s America Saves Week. So hop to it.
America Saves Weeks is a national campaign managed by the non-profit Consumer Federation of America group. To learn more about America Saves Week visit: americasavesweek.org/home-2 .
To read more articles, please visit the column archive.