Saving money can be a challenge even in the strongest of economic times, and according to a University of Illinois Extension consumer economics educator, an increasing number of Americans are having difficulty saving money for everything from emergencies to retirement.
"The most important thing about savings is just to do it," says Kathy Sweedler. "Make the change now to either start saving regularly or to increase the amount you are saving."
Sweedler recommends to those who want to get started on a personal savings to sign up for the free America Saves program at http://americasaves.org/.
"It's a national program created by the American Savings Education Council that encourages people to set a savings goal and to regularly save money," Sweedler explains. "When you join America Saves, you will receive free newsletters and access to online tools such as the 'My Savings Tracker."
It's those small, friendly, encouraging nudges that are often helpful to develop new habits such as a savings habit, she adds.
Sweedler describes another new tool that can motivate saving. "America Saves has partnered with SaveUp, the nation's first free rewards program for saving money and reducing debt," she notes.
SaveUp is available free to Americans who bank at more than 18,000 U.S. financial institutions. To participate with SaveUp, go to https://www.saveup.com/.
"Unlike traditional rewards programs that focus on driving consumer spending, SaveUp rewards users with credits for performing positive financial actions, such as contributing to their savings or retirement accounts; paying down their credit cards, mortgages or other loans; and engaging with SaveUp's financial education content on the site," Sweedler explains. "SaveUp users can use their credits to pay for exciting rewards such as retail gift cards, electronics, vacations, home makeovers, cars and even a $2 million jackpot."
Sweedler has tried the new SaveUp program and likes it.
"If you enjoy the excitement of playing the lottery, this may give you the same 'buzz' and you will save money rather than spend it," she said.