America Has a Saving Problem: What’s in Your Wallet?

By Matt Kelly

Savings accounts are a vital component of anyone’s financial planning. By putting aside a portion of your earnings into a savings account, you can grow your wealth by taking advantage of interest rates so that you can be assured you’ll have the funds necessary when a need arises. Whether you’re saving up for retirement, planning to put your children through college or even just looking to take a vacation, it isn’t necessarily important why you’re saving—it only matters that you do it.

But based on recent data released by the Saint Louis Federal Reserve, Americans are having a hard time amassing money in their savings accounts. According to the Fed, 70 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 set aside in savings. In addition, the Fed found that Americans’ personal savings rate is only 5.7 percent. While that number has remained steady over the past few years, it is only half the amount saved by Americans 50 years ago.

Financial experts have made a number of recommendations to help people protect themselves during periods of financial turbulence. Individuals should be saving between 10 and 15 percent of their income. Additionally, it is prudent to have six months’ worth of your annual salary to avoid a pitfall in the event of job loss or other unforeseen expenses.

With the holidays coming up, these statistics are particularly alarming. According to a recent Gallup poll, the average American plans on spending $785 on Christmas gifts this year. That means a majority of Americans are planning to deplete their savings accounts in order to get gifts for friends and family members.

But what happens when your car needs a new transmission? What happens if your furnace dies in the middle of winter? While these are worst-case scenarios, your financial strategy should follow the mantra, “hope for the best but plan for the worst.”

And while it may seem impossible to begin accumulating more money in your savings account, there are a number of simple steps you can take to start heading in the right direction.

For starters, stop by a Milford Bank branch location and speak with a financial advisor. An experienced financial planner will be able to help you isolate the problematic areas of your budgeting and offer additional advice on managing any existing debt you may currently owe.

There are also numerous budgeting tools available for free today that can help you accumulate data and track your progress in real-time, meaning you can get a more comprehensive understanding of your spending habits that might not otherwise be easy to spot on a day-by-day basis.

If you can’t seem to stay disciplined enough to stop pulling money from your savings account, you may also want to consider an alternative investment vehicle. Certificates of deposit, for instance, are ideal. You can select a term limit that best reflects your needs. During that time period you will not be able to withdraw your funds, but will enjoy high yield interest rates upon completion of the term.

To learn more, stop by any office of The Milford Bank or check out our online Learning Center here.