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Save money before rainy days arrive
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Few events focus the need for saving money like a sudden job loss or a personal catastrophe. Unfortunately, by then it is too late.
“Most people know they need to save money for retirement or for their child's college education, but any number of crises that require emergency funds can occur before those anticipated needs arrive,” said Bobbie Shaffett, family resource management specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service.
Shaffett and other financial advisers in Mississippi just completed a consumer protection campaign in February. They worked to increase awareness of issues such as payday loan pitfalls, identity theft, senior adult concerns and fraud. They also promoted the importance of saving money, especially for emergency needs, which often cause people to turn to payday lenders.
“Research suggests that many Americans spend more than they earn and do not have enough saved for an emergency fund, or the money needed to cover three to six months of expenses,” Shaffett said. “Unfortunately, most people are building debt, not savings.”
Shaffett said the America Saves Week, held in February, aimed to increase consumer awareness of the importance of paying off debt and saving money. Tips for financial savings are online at http://www.AmericaSaves.org.
“Even little things -- saving loose change, drinking water at restaurants or buying store-brand products -- can add up to a nice nest egg over time,” Shaffett said. “Being more responsible by paying bills on time (to avoid late fees) and not bouncing checks (to avoid service charges) can add up to big bucks that are not wasted.”
Anne Balazs, professor of marketing at Mississippi University for Women, said adults should help children develop a habit of saving money.
“Parents can break debt cycles by practicing self-discipline themselves and teaching their children to save money for long-term goals,” Balazs said. “Children, even preschoolers, are never too young to learn about money and the need to save money.”
Balazs encouraged parents to talk with their children about allowances and ways to earn money, such as washing cars, babysitting, selling lemonade and taking on additional responsibilities around the home. Encourage children to open bank accounts. Young children may enjoy the feel of a piggy bank getting heavier from week to week. Help them set goals for savings accounts.
“Families can join together in their goal-setting for mutual needs. If they share in earning, they can share in the benefits,” she said. “Many of today's financial problems nationally boil down to the fact that we are not teaching young people about money, credit, saving, spending and investing. Remember, these are the people who will be governing and leading us in the future.”