DANBURY — It’s time to stop splurging and start saving.
Monday marked the start of America Saves Week and the accompanying state initiative Connecticut Saves Week. The week, coordinated by America Saves and the American Savings Educational Council, is designed to encourage and support low- and moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt and build wealth to archive their personal financial goals.
“This week, Connecticut’s residents are encouraged to focus on smart saving and investing habits to help reach important financial goals, such as saving for college or retirement,” said state Department of Banking Commissioner Jorge Perez. “While it is important to remember to keep those habits sharp year-round, Connecticut Saves Week is a great time to evaluate our finances and ensure financial security for ourselves and our families.”
The state will hold financial workshops and activities on smart savings throughout the week. A financial education expo with exhibitor tables and financial programs will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.
The closest financial workshop to Danbury will be “Taking Financial Action: Saving Money and Dealing with Debt” from 9 to 11 a.m. on Thursday at the Waterbury Job Center.
There is significant need for the guidance, given the number of people who struggle financially. A 2015 study from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation found 48 percent of state residents do not have emergency funds, 52 percent have not set aside money for their children’s college education and 18 percent spend more than their income.
Marlene Piche, senior vice president and head of branch banking for Danbury-based Union Savings Bank, said America Saves Week is the ideal time to plan for the future.
“Achieving personal financial goals is top of mind for many of us,” she said. “Having a good savings plan is the foundation to achieving those goals.”
Piche said her bank launched the FutureTrack program in 2016, which creates customized savings plans.
“Our FutureTrack program and will help anyone get started on their financial journey,” she said. “The best time to plan for tomorrow is to start now.”
Piche said it is important to establish a realistic budget that includes paying off debt and starting a savings plan or increasing a current savings plan. When paying off debt, she said, start with those that have the largest interest rates. Also, Piche said, look for opportunities to consolidate debt.
She said Union Savings Bank personnel can help look for ways to manage and reduce debt.
Those new to saving should start by establishing an emergency fund so going into debt is not necessary to meet short-term emergency needs. Employers should take full advantage of employer-sponsored retirement programs, such a 401(k), she added.
“Finally, map your future personal financial goals and save for the things you want in life, such as buying a home, paying for college tuition, planning a wedding or anything else important to you,” Piche said.
According to the 2016 America Saves Week survey, 55 percent of people with a savings plan that has specific goals reported positive savings progress. Only 23 percent without a specific plan reported success.
Danbury-based financial advisor Robert Reby said people should save 15 percent of one’s income for the future before any other financial consideration. He said since the recession ended, people have been paying down debt at a greater pace.
“People have paid down a lot of debt over the last six years and that, in itself, is a form of saving,” he said. “The assets-to-debt ratio is as strong as ever as a nation.”
For information about Connecticut Saves Week, visit www.connecticutsaves.org.
Courtesy of New Canaan News