pennies

People just aren’t saving enough money these days

saving-money-side-barThe old line, “a penny saved is a penny earned,” seems to have been forgotten in recent years.

It goes without saying how important it is to save. Without some sort of savings you can’t retire comfortably, meet sudden costs like healthcare emergencies, or afford that really expensive camera you’ve had your eye on.

The Great Recession, yes we’re still talking about it, hurt nearly everyone, forcing many to clean out their savings so they could weather the storm.

A Pew Research Center report in 2010 found that four-in-ten adults who had a savings, checking or retirement account withdrew money from those very places you’re continuously advised to forget about and leave alone.

Now, we’ve been in what many have called the recovery period, with Arizona only recently fully recovering from the downturn, but many of the jobs the state as recouped have left folks underemployed, which can have an impact on how much people save.

A recent poll conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found two-thirds of Americans would have a tough go at paying for a $1,000 emergency.

Eric Palmer, chief marketing officer at Brokers Alliance, says the poll shows people just aren’t saving as much as they used to.

“We lost the art of saving,” Palmer says. “(Saving) was something the late generations were good at. Over time, it just seems that it’s becoming less and less of a priority.”

Another report, released by the Federal Reserve in May, found 47 percent of its respondents had an emergency or rainy day fund that could meet three months worth of expenses.

“Overall, many individuals appear ill-prepared for financial emergencies that may arise,” the Federal Reserve study states about its overall poll results.

Palmer says there isn’t enough education around the art of saving. With today’s technology and the on-demand economy, it can be hard to save when there’s a new iPhone to buy or several dozen streaming services for which to pay.

And it’s not just young 20-somethings who might not be saving their money because there’s so much to buy. The older generations are having a tough time at saving, too, because we’re all spending more than we’re saving, Palmer says. It’s just an overall change in habits across the country and across generations, he adds.

Interest rates

Beyond having more bills to pay, low interest rates on savings accounts has been disheartening to potential savers, too.

Even though the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the second time in nearly a decade this December, rates are still low.

Palmer says the low interest rates certainly have an effect on people’s saving habits because there isn’t much incentive or value for folks to stash their cash in the bank.

Ben Garcia, Chase Bank’s Arizona market director in Consumer and Community Banking, says bankers get a lot of questions about interest rates when folks are looking to save. Just like there is more than one way to skin a cat, though, there are many ways to save your hard-earned dough.

Garcia likens saving to investing, where you should put your money in multiple vehicles instead of just one savings account.

“It’s a must,” Garcia says about spreading your assets. “It’s not good to have it all in one place.”

Putting away money in a certificate of deposit and retirement funds to spread the wealth are all great ways to spread the wealth and save.

Out of sight, out of mind

Saving with the classic mentality that you never really earned that money in the first place, is probably the best way to save your assets, Palmer says.

Having your savings set up in a way where the money is put away into a 401k or some other type of savings vehicle before it even reaches your pocket will leave you surprised at how much you can save, Palmer says.

If you received your whole paycheck, it might be a lot harder to put some money away, he says.

It’s also best to have two savings accounts, Palmer adds. One account can be used for fun stuff like vacations and fancy clothes, while the other is strictly for emergencies. It may take a while, but it’s best to have six months worth of your earnings saved up in the emergency account, Palmer says.

Everyone is different, though, and it may not be easy to save your assets because of financial obligations. Garcia says saving depends on the individual, and as long as you look at your assets and determine you’re saving enough for your goals, then the right steps are being taken.

Back to school

Low-income families especially have trouble saving. Complaints about wage growth is one reason, but Garcia says education is another reason low-income families aren’t saving enough.

Chase Bank has programs where its bankers go out into the community to teach financial planning and education, Garcia says.

It’s especially beneficial to start young. Recently, Chase Bankers were on hand at the Salvation Army Kroc Center’s Back to School Bash to teach kids financial lessons.

Savings is just one of those things that should be started early.

“All of us in the finance industry would like more folks saving,” Garcia says.

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