MUNISING - This week is America Saves Week and Michigan State University Alger County Extension Educator Joan Vinette suggests it's a great opportunity to improve your own, and your children's, relationship with money.
To help, Vinette has offered some suggestions for saving money and a savings challenge you could undertake this week.
The first thing Vinette suggests is setting a savings goal. What is it you want to achieve?
"Adult goals might be their child's education, emergency savings, buying an expensive item, such as a home, business, car or electronic devices," Vinette said. "A child's goal may be to take lessons in a special skill, purchase an electronic device or go on a trip or to a camp with friends."
Another suggestion is to develop a plan. Consider the steps you will need to take to achieve your goal
Vinette said saving automatically can also be a good idea. To do so, contact your local financial institution to find out which products they offer that are suitable for your goal. Then set up automatic savings.
"Most banks and credit unions offer easy savings programs with incentives for children too," Vinette said. "Another old, but easy, savings program is starting a Christmas Club. You may be surprised to learn the wonderful opportunities your financial institution offers to encourage adults and children to save."
Because this week is dedicated to encouraging Americans to re-develop money saving habits, Vinette suggests a challenge of seeing how much you can save in seven days by employing an easy strategy: empty your pockets, empty your purse, pick up every loose coin that you find.
"Look for those stray coins in drawers, on countertops and bureaus, under furniture and maybe even in the dog's bed," Vinette said. "Why not challenge everyone in your household to join you on this savings quest."
Vinette said to find a jar or a pretty clear vase to put those coins in. You want to be able to watch your savings grow this week. Then on the seventh day of the challenge, shake out your savings.
Count the coins and congratulate yourself on starting a savings habit.
"If you want to reward yourself, do so in a small way. Take 10 to 25 percent of your collected coins and get yourself a small treat," Vinette said. "But, here's the important part, put the majority of this 'found money' into a bank or credit union account where it can continue to grow. Let this account be designated for future emergencies or, if you already have an emergency account, mark this money for planned spending in your future.
Safe options for holding the money you save include savings accounts, certificates of deposit, money market accounts at a local financial institution, money market mutual funds and savings bonds.
For more information on any of these options, visit: www.mimoneyhealth.org
At green box on the left, click on "Savings & Investing." When you get to that page, look for the red link which says: "Savings Basics Worksheet." If you click on this file, you can print out four pages of helpful information about saving money.
If you are not a computer user, these resources are still available. Contact Vinette, at the Alger County office of MSU Extension at 387-2530. She will mail you copies of any of these suggested links.
Vinette also suggests visiting the website www.AmericaSavesWeek.org, where you can find other savings ideas that could work for you. The website offers free newsletters and tips and planning tools.
Write to Vinette via email at: email@example.com.
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.