A state and national campaign to encourage Missourians to save their money is wrapping up a month-long awareness campaign. America Saves started in 2001; it’s designed to help raise awareness about the importance of saving but this year Missouri Extension has dedicated a month to helping Missourians, in a camping called Missouri Saves.
Surveys show that only 50 percent of people have good savings habits and only 43 percent have a spending plan that allows them to save enough money to achieve their goals. Missouri Saves hosts a series of events throughout Missouri hoping to raise awareness that people need to begin to save. Brenda Procter, Extension Associate Professor in Personal financial planning says creating an emergency fund is critical for individuals and families.
“We feel like if people can put together even just a little bit of an emergency fund they can when a financial emergency comes up they can deal with it,” says Procter. “Because it’s those financial emergencies that we don’t think about that can kind of get people kind of spiraling into a situation where they’re relying more on credit card debt and are becoming more financially unstable.”
Missouri Saves distributes family financial education faculty throughout Missouri, creating a presence in every county. The idea is to provide support and get the discussion started about saving money. Procter says that setting goals is very important but that not all savings have to go towards emergencies and that savings can go towards fun activities too.
“You know maybe we want to go on a particular type of a vacation. So if we tie our savings to that goal then we’re a lot more likely to save enough money to be able to reach that goal,” Procter says.
America Saves week runs from February 25th until March 2nd. Katie Bryan is with America Saves. She says the first step to saving money is to face or create a budget.
“I think a lot of time people don’t want to look at their savings and how their doing so if they can take this one time of year to really go through the check list see do they have debt they need to pay down, do they have an emergency fund, are they saving for retirement. There’s a lot there, so if they can just take one time a year to look at that savings and then take that pledge it’ll really help out,” Bryan says.
Both Procter and Bryan say people of all incomes should be able to save a little bit even if it’s simply the change they gather in their pocket throughout the day.