SOMETIMES life can throw you a curve ball when you least expect it. You lose your job. A loved one is diagnosed with a serious illness. Do you have an emergency fund saved up that can pay three months of your household expenses in cases such as these?
According to the 2012 National Financial Capability Study, more than half of Americans are not prepared for such financial emergencies. In fact, many people aren't even financially prepared for smaller, but still unexpected, expenses like new tires for the car or fixing a suddenly broken furnace.
So where does one begin to better prepare for financial stability?
T-L Photo/ KAYLA?VAN?DYNE
The Belmont County Commissioners made a proclamation at their recent meeting announcing the week of Feb. 24 through March 1 Ohio Saves Week. Ohio Saves is a social marketing campaign that encourages individuals and families to save money, reduce debt and build personal wealth over time. Pictured with Belmont County Commissioners Mark Thomas, Ginny Favede and Matt Coffland is Polly Loy (third from left),?Family and Consumer Sciences Educator with the OSU Extension, Belmont County.
T-L Photo/ KAYLA?VAN?DYNE
Polly Loy,?Family and Consumer Sciences Educator with the OSU Extension, Belmont County, speaks at the recent Belmont County Commissioners meeting about Ohio Saves Week. Looking on is Commissioner Matt Coffland.
Beginning Monday, the Ohio State University Extension office brings the national America Saves campaign to Ohio by launching Ohio Saves, a social marketing campaign that encourages individuals and families to save money, reduce debt and build personal wealth over time. Ohio joins 55 local and statewide campaigns working with America Saves, a national non-profit headed by the Consumer Federation of America. To date, 347,600 people have made a personal commitment to save by joining America Saves.
America Saves helps individuals and families take charge of their financial future by having individuals set a savings goal and make a plan to save towards that goal. America Saves members have committed to save more than $40,000,000 over the past 12 years. The top five America Saves saver goals during that period are: an emergency fund, education, debt repayment, investment savings and homeownership.
"Twelve years ago we set out to help people save more successfully. I am thrilled that in that time we have been able to help nearly 350,000 people make a plan to reach their savings goals," said Nancy Register, national director of America Saves. "From paying down debt to saving for emergencies, we know that people, regardless of income level, have the ability to save."
8 Ohio Saves online challenge:
8 Manage Your Money email challenge:
email firstname.lastname@example.org with "MYM" in the subject
8 Ohio Saves "Manage Your Money" free workshop:
Wednesday,?Feb. 26, Boscov's at the Ohio Valley Mall, 6-7 p.m. Call 740-699-2700 to register.
"Start Small, Think Big" is the slogan of Ohio Saves Week, which will span the week of Feb. 24 to March 1. "Starting a savings plan and getting family finances in order are frequently New Year's resolutions that people make with good intentions," explained Polly Loy, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator with OSU Extension, Belmont County. "But by the end of January, the arrival of credit card bills reflecting holiday overindulgence can derail even the most determined saver."
Individuals who sign up for the free resources provided through Ohio Saves receive free financial tools, savings services, advice, and resources that help Ohioans from every income level take the steps needed to take charge of their finances and manage money more effectively. When someone joins Ohio Saves they can receive a free subscription to the quarterly American Saver newsletter, free monthly e-mail newsletters with savings advice from national experts, free access to the members-only Savers Assessment Tool to help reach their goals, free text message reminders and motivations to save, and 100 bonus credits with SaveUp - a free program that rewards Americans for saving money and paying down their debts.
In conjunction with Ohio Saves, the OSU Extension is also offering a seven-week financial management email challenge "Manage Your Money" to help improve your money management skills. The challenge begins March 3, and participants will receive bi-weekly messages with lessons, links, tips and advice for managing money. To sign up for the "Manage Your Money" email challenge, send an email to email@example.com with "MYM" in the subject.
Boscov's "Campus of Courses" at the Ohio Valley Mall will also present a free workshop on Wednesday, Feb. 26 from 6-7 p.m. led by Loy called "Ohio Saves: Manage Your Money." The workshop covers basic budgeting and other household finance tips, and will also serve as an introduction to the online challenge. "The email challenge will be introduced and explained thoroughly," Loy said, "But the course could also be a stand alone introduction to home finances in general. Anyone is welcome to come, even if you don't want to do the email challenge." Loy emphasized, however, that participating in the email challenge is highly encouraged to get the full benefits of the course. The course is free. Call 740-699-2700 to register.
The 2012 national survey assessing household saving from America Saves found that having a savings plan with specific goals can have beneficial financial effects, even for lower-income families. The survey also revealed that two-thirds of Americans spend less than their income and save the difference, and two-thirds have sufficient emergency savings to pay for unexpected expenses like car repairs or a doctor's visit.
By joining the Ohio Saves challenge, you can help yourself pay off high-cost debt, pay off your mortgage before you retire, save automatically through monthly transfers at your financial institution from your checking to your savings account, or having a portion of your paycheck directly deposited into your savings. Whatever your savings goal - emergency fund, debt repayment, homeownership or retirement - make a pledge to take action.
Become an Ohio Saver by taking the pledge and joining the free, online Ohio Saves program at go.osu.edu/belmontsaves. For additional resources, on Facebook "like" Belmont County Family and Consumer Sciences, or visit facebook.com/OhioSaves; on Twitter, follow @WellnessWakeUp. To learn more about Ohio Saves, visit ohiosaves.org.