The Shawnee News-Star
  • Americans not saving

  • Do you have a $585 snack in your budget?
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  • The saving rate in America continues to be at or near zero. A recent survey found that a third of Americans are not saving.
    Instead, they are spending all, or even more, of their incomes. In low- and moderate- income households, the percentages of non-savers appear to be much higher.
    Many Americans, when asked, feel challenged as to how they can save money. With the start of the New Year, and an end to the holiday spending season, some families are trying to determine where or how they can begin to spend less and save more.
    There are ways to cut spending fairly easy and painlessly. Find small savings that add up to big savings over time and keep a careful record of all expenditures for a month. You may be surprised to learn how much you are spending on things such as a daily latte or restaurant meals.
    Hence, the $585 snack concept. Here is the example:
    Everyday Linda buys three snacks - a cupcake twin pack $.95, Bag of chips $.70 and a pop $.60 which adds up to $2.25/day. However, when added up over time it equals $11.25/week and $585/year. *
    To put it into perspective, if Linda makes the current minimum wage of $7.25/hour she will have to work for two weeks to cover the cost of her daily snacks.
    As families begin to really track every penny they spend, they will be able to determine what their "$585 snack" spending is. For some, it may be small items picked up for kids at the checkout line, or multiple downloads to a smart phone, etc.
    The point is to determine where your money is going, and in what amounts, so you can decide if those purchases are truly worth the cost.
    Most people don't have large sums of unused money in their budgets. It is up to individuals to find money they can use to pay off debt or save. Many times that money can be found in very small purchases that add up over time.
    No saving is too small, even putting back as little as $10 or $15 a month helps. Also, put all your loose change into this account. For many people, that could be up to $100 a year.
    Low- and moderate- income workers qualify each year for Earned Income Tax Credit and this can often put more than $1,000 in the pocket of those who qualify. Try to save at least half of this windfall.
    Sounds very silly, but it is true. Pennies make dollars. So, every penny in your budget is important and you should know where it is spent.
    *$585 snack example is from the Dollar Decisions Curriculum. This is a short workshop series which is provided by the Pottawatomie County Extension Service, Family and Consumer Science programs.
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