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					Fall 2004




American
   20 Local Campaigns
                                    Saver       ARIZONA SAVER
                                                                                            You Can Build Wealth

   Enroll as Savers                             Saving for Financial Independence
   T  he launching of El Paso Saves, Marine                                                itoring the family’s electricity use. As

                                                T
                                                        wo years ago Vivien Vargha
      Corps Saves (Camp Lejeune), Army                  was at a crisis point. When        she tells her children, “You budget, or
   Saves (Fort Stewart), and Navy Saves                 her 15-year relationship           you go without.”
   (Norfolk Navy Base) brings to 20 the         ended, she and her three children               The one thing that helped her more
   number of local campaigns that now are       “lost the house, the cars, everything.”    than anything else, she said, was put-
   enrolling Savers.                            To add to her troubles, she had no         ting her budget in writing. “The most
          These campaigns have involved         experience with the basic tasks of         important thing is put it on paper.
   more than 1000 organizations, more than      managing money, like paying bills          You’ve got to visualize it. That’s the
   100 of which are financial institutions.     and making a budget. “I didn’t             only way you can stick to it.”
                                                know what to do,” she said. “I was              To help her keep track of her
          Several more campaigns are expect-
                                                working. I knew I had to work. But         spending, she made folders for each
   ed to begin in the next several months,                                                 budget category with manilla
                                                that was all I knew.”
   and an additional couple of dozen cam-            Today, she has a car, she’s buying    envelopes attached. She puts her
   paigns are being organized.                  a house, and, when her father died         receipts in the envelope and keeps a
          Normally, it takes between six and    recently, she had the money she            record of all her expenditures.
   18 months for a local campaign to be         needed to hop on a plane the next
   organized. Planners must build a group       day and fly to his funeral. She has
   of organizational supporters, recruit a      also nearly completed her bachelor’s
                                                                                                            “I was tired of
   coordinator, develop materials and serv-     degree and recently landed a new job                        living paycheck to
   ices, such as motivational workshops and     with the county that comes with a                           paycheck.”
   wealth coaching, test these services, and    pay increase.                                               Vivien Vargha
   figure out how to market and deliver              She credits the help she got from
   them.                                        the Labors Community Services
                                                Agency and Arizona Saves for her                On a couple of occasions when she
          At each stage, local campaigns                                                   “needed direction,” she called her
                                                success. “That program got me
   receive assistance from the America Saves    where I am today,” she said.               Arizona Saves wealth counselor for
   national office. That assistance begins           It was Labors Community Services      advice. Gradually, her savings began
   with advice and training, including site     Agency that introduced Ms. Vargha to       to grow. “It didn’t happen overnight,”
   visits. It extends to preparation of all     Arizona Saves, when they brought in a      she said. “I can’t describe how hard it
   materials.                                   campaign representative to speak to        was. But I had a goal in mind, and I
          The national office also provides     their renters. What attracted Ms.          stuck to it. I really had to believe there
   services to active campaigns, such as man-   Vargha was what the speaker had to         was a light at the end of the tunnel.”
   agement of the Saver database and            say about “being financially independ-          Now she’s working on rebuilding
   preparation of the quarterly American        ent.” “I was tired of living paycheck      her savings, which were “wiped
   Saver newsletter.                            to paycheck,” she explained. “The          clean” with her recent house pur-
                                                motivation was really in myself. I just    chase. And she needs to buy furni-
          For the past several years, most of
                                                needed to hear the excitement from         ture and other items for her new
   these services have been paid for out of                                                house. “I have to figure out what’s
                                                another person.”
   generous grants from Providian Financial.         She signed up as an Arizona Saver     the best way to complete this task.
   This financial services company has just     and started saving 10 percent of each      It’s going to be really complicated to
   provided funding for a third year.           paycheck. To find the extra money to       me until I get a plan in force.” But
                                                save, she trimmed her expenses in a lot    with the same determination that has
                                                of areas – by cutting back on her food     brought her so far already she adds,
                                                bill, switching to basic cable, and mon-   “It’ll get done eventually.”

               w w w . A m e r i c a S a v e s . o r g
                                          Savings Strategies
                                          Building Wealth Through Home Ownership
                                                                                      detect problems ranging from dry rot

                                          B
                                               uying a home and faithfully
                                               making mortgage payments is            to defective plumbing to a leaky roof.
                                               the most effective way most            They may persuade you not to buy or
                                          Americans save and build wealth.            to negotiate for repairs or a reduced
Financial Market
   facts
                                          About two-fifths of all household           sale price from the seller.
                                          wealth represents home equity.
                                                                                      Tip 6: Make Mortgage Payments
                                             Some home owners, however, build
                                                                                      Regularly and On Time.
                                          wealth more effectively than others.
    September 2004                                                                        Making these payments will help
                                          Here are our top ten tips for building
    Money market                          wealth through home ownership.              you build wealth and avoid costly
    account                 0.48%                                                     penalty fees. If payments are missed,
    1-year CD               1.66%         Tip 1: Clean Up Your Credit.                you could lose your home through
    5-year CD               3.56%             If you have run up large debts and      foreclosure.
                                          have not paid them off on time, you
    U.S. Savings Bonds                                                                Tip 7: If You Have Payment
                                          probably have a low credit score. A
                                                                                      Problems, Seek Assistance.
    EE Bond                 2.84%         score below 600, for example, will
    I Bond                  3.39%         make it difficult for you to obtain a           Keeping in mind that lenders lose
                                          mortgage at reasonable rates. Clean         money in foreclosures, inform your
    Mortgage Rates                        up your credit by paying down loans         mortgage lender about payment prob-
    30-year fixed rate                    and paying on time. The goal should         lems and ask their assistance.
    mortgage           5.76%              be raising your credit score above 700.     Reputable housing counselors can often
    15-year fixed rate
                                                                                      be helpful, as may a local non-profit
                                          Tip 2: Build Savings.                       credit counseling agency.
    mortgage           5.16%
    1-year adjustable                         Savings will allow you to make a rel-
                                                                                      Tip 8: Be Cautious About Borrowing
    mortgage           4.21%              atively large down payment on your
                                                                                      Your Home Equity.
                                          house, thus reducing the size and price
    Sources: The New York Times,          of your mortgage loan and private mort-         Remember that your home equity
    “Data Bank,” pg. BU 11, September     gage insurance. Savings will also permit    is wealth. Be especially wary of
    19, 2004 and www.savingsbond.gov,                                                 uninvited loan offers you receive
    September 24, 2004.
                                          you to afford moving expenses and any
                                          necessary post-purchase repairs.            through the mail, by telephone, over
                                                                                      the Internet, or on your doorstep.
                                          Tip 3: Look for a Mortgage Loan             Remember that the most appropriate
Family Wealth                             Before Looking for a House.                 uses for home equity loans are major

   facts                                      Get qualified for a mortgage loan
                                          before you look for a house, condo, or
                                          co-op. That will give you some idea of
                                          whether you can afford to purchase a
                                                                                      emergencies, home improvements, and
                                                                                      education. Using your home equity to
                                                                                      buy an expensive car or take a costly
                                                                                      vacation is usually not wise.
    Household Net Wealth
    (2001 medians)                        home and, if you can, at what price.
                                                                                      Tip 9: Pay Off Your Mortgage
                                          That will also protect you against any-
    Homeowners          $178,494                                                      Before Retirement.
                                          one who tries to sell you more home
    Renters               $4,997          than you can afford.                             Many families still making large
                                                                                      mortgage payments cannot afford to
    Homeownership Rate                    Tip 4: Find a Good Real Estate              retire. Once you make that last payment,
    (2003)                                Agent.                                      your living expenses go way down, and
    All households              68%           Consider hiring a buyer broker          you have a major asset you could sell or
    Under 35                    42%       whose only interest is getting you a        even convert into an income stream
                                          good deal. Ask friends for suggestions      through a reverse equity mortgage.
    Over 55                     81%
                                          about good agents. Interview potential
    African-American            48%                                                   Tip 10: Try To Improve Your
                                          brokers about their real estate experi-
    Hispanic                    47%                                                   Neighborhood.
                                          ence and about what they promise to
                                          do for you.                                     The value of your house depends in
                                                                                      part on the quality of your neighbor-
    Sources: State of the Nations’s       Tip 5: Hire an Independent Home             hood – its safety, appearance, school
    Housing 2004, Joint Center for        Inspector.
    Housing Studies, Havard University.
                                                                                      quality, and related factors. Join with
                                              To help ensure the house has no         neighbors to try to keep this quality
                                          hidden problems, independently search       up. That will not only keep your
                                          for and hire a well regarded home           house valuable, it will also make it a
                                          inspector. This person should help          more attractive place for you to live.
A Quarter Saved
    is a Quarter Earned
                                          In our home, we find that we have

N
        o one knows better than
        Savers how to find the extra      had to use the air conditioning            Send your savings tips to:
        dollar here and quarter           much less if we simply run the attic       American Saver, c/o Consumer
there that, over time, add up to          fan for about 30 minutes every             Federation of America, P.O. Box 12099,
substantial savings. Here are a           night. It sucks up the warm air            Washington, D.C. 20005-0999.
few of their savings tips.                inside the house and, with the win-             If we select your tip for publication,
                                          dows open a little, provides a nice        we will send you a $50 EE Series
                                          cool temperature to fall asleep to.        Savings Bond (initial value $25). Please
When cleaning windows, use white                                    PHIL JOHNSON     include your name, mailing address, and
vinegar instead of commercial                                       SHAWNEE, KS      phone number so we can contact you to
products. You won’t believe the                                                      arrange for your savings bond.
shine or the savings.                     Instead of buying cookies, try bak-
                         SHELLY SERVICE   ing your own. Biscotti bought
                        BROOKLYN, NY      from a coffee shop cost $2 apiece.        Living on a tight budget, it’s often
                                          A cookie jar full of biscotti costs       difficult to save money. This is a
If you are someone who drinks a           less than $4 if you make them
lot of canned beverages, consider                                                   painless way our family has found
                                          yourself. Biscotti and other cookie       to save for gifts for birthdays,
turning in your aluminum cans             recipes can be obtained for free off
and other metal for scrap. Get a                                                    Christmas, Mother’s and Father’s
                                          the web.                                  Day. When making entries in our
separate trash can to store them in.                                RON PERREMAN
Wash them to avoid collecting bugs                                                  checkbook, we round up to the
                                                             CLINTON TOWNSHIP, MI   nearest dollar. For example, if the
and crush them to save space.
Scrap yards pay between 30 and                After Christmas, I save all of        check was for $25.15, we enter
50 cents a pound for cans. They           the cards people have sent to us. I       $26. At the end of the month, we
also take old aluminum siding,            carefully cut them in half and save       withdraw the excess amount and
copper pipe, old machine batteries,       the decorative fronts. The follow-        add it to the Holiday kitty.
etc. I call several scrap yards to        ing Christmas, instead of buying                            ROBERTO   AND  CHARMIN LÉON
see who has the best price at the         expensive cards and paying the full                                       CLEVELAND, OH
time. It helps with the recycling         37 cent stamp price, I write a note
effort, and I make a few dollars.         on the back of the “postcard” and
                      MATTHEW ALANDT
                     SOUTH EUCLID, OH
                                          use a postcard stamp. I have done
                                          this successfully, and the Post            American
I switched from regular light bulbs
                                          Office accepts them.
                                                                  JODELL LANGLEY
                                                                                                Saver
to florescent light bulbs in my                               BONNER SPRINGS, KS
house, and my electric bill dropped                                                  American Saver is the quarterly newsletter of
considerably. They don’t burn as          Don’t eat out for lunch. Buy food          the America Saves campaign, a national pro-
bright, but they burn longer. I had       to prepare and snacks from the             gram to encourage and assist Americans to
one for two years before it finally       grocery store, and try to buy in           save and build wealth more effectively.
went out. I’ll never go back to reg-      bulk whenever possible. At $7 per          The campaign is coordinated by the non-
ular light bulbs again.                   day, you could easily spend $140           profit Consumer Federation of America
                  ROBIN WELSOME MONK      per month on fast food. Meals of a         (CFA), supported by national foundations,
                        CHARLOTTE, NC     similar size, if prepared at home,         and advised by dozens of non-profit, gov-
                                          could easily cost half of that. Also,      ernment, and business groups. A generous
When we paid off our vehicle last         by the time you pay for three or           grant from the New Century Financial
year, we continued to have the            four sodas during the week at a            Corporation supports the publication and
payment withdrawn from our                vending machine, you would have            distribution of the American Saver.
checking account and transferred          paid for a two-liter soda. Taking
to our savings. We don’t miss the         your lunch, drink, and snacks will         Questions about how to start a local savings
funds, as we were used to having          even make your lunch hour more             campaign in your area should be directed to:
them applied to the car payment           efficient. You won’t have to wait          Nancy Register, America Saves, c/o CFA,
anyway. We used the extra money           in long lines at crowded restau-           P.O. Box 12099, Washington, D.C. 20005-
to plan our wedding.                      rants, and you will save money on          0999; 202-387-6121 (phone); 202-265-7989
                       JAMIE DENUNZIO     gas and parking expenses.                  (fax); nregister@consumerfed.org.
                          READING, PA                           KENYA D. BORDERS     American Saver Editor: Barbara Roper
                                                                  CHARLOTTE, NC

                                                                                                                                     3
   News                                     F R O M        L O C A L       C A M PA I G N S
   Note: This is not an exhaustive list of the activities of all America Saves sites, but rather a sampling of activities from several of the local
   campaigns. For a more complete list of America Saves campaigns, be certain to visit our website at www.americasaves.org.

        Arizona Saves is working with                     El Paso Saves (TX) enrolled                   mately 115 hours rolling, sorting,
   the Roosevelt School District in                  more than 750 Savers between                       and counting $9,919 worth of
   Phoenix to offer the Arizona Kids                 January and September. The cam-                    change during the campaign’s “Roll
   Save program to fifth graders in 56               paign is actively enrolling Savers                 Your Change” event in August.
   schools. The campaign plans to                    through church fairs, League of                    Events for the one-year anniversary
   offer quarterly training sessions                 United Latin American Citizens                     celebration had to be postponed
   throughout the state to reach out to              fairs, and Volunteer Income Tax                    because of Hurricane Ivan.
   Native American tribes.                           Assistance sites.                                       Philadelphia Saves (PA) is
        Champaign County Saves                            In October, the state of Georgia              approaching its year-end goal of
   (IL) has added several new part-                  will kick off a week-long campaign,                enrolling 2,000 Savers, with more
   ners to its working group, including              endorsed by Governor Sonny                         than 1,700 Savers already enrolled
   Parkland Community College, and                   Perdue, to raise savings awareness.                by September.
   has recruited a number of volun-                  The events, organized by Georgia                        San Diego Saves (CA) launched
   teers from the local McKinley                     Saves, will include “Count Up to                   its pilot program in September with
   Toastmasters group to serve as                    Wealth,” sponsored by the city of                  the training of motivational speakers
   motivational speakers. The cam-                   Columbus, “Roll Your Change                        and wealth coaches.
   paign continues to make progress                  Week” in the Cobb County School                         Over 2,700 baseball fans
   toward its goal of having ten host                System, and Peer Financial Coun-                   received savings information at the
   sites for its pilot program.                      selors workshops at the University of              second annual Tennessee Saves
        Charlotte Saves (NC) is plan-                Georgia and other colleges.                        Night at the Chattanooga Lookouts
   ning its first Community                               Jacksonville Saves (FL) has                   baseball game. In addition to sav-
   Partnership luncheon, to be held in               formed partnerships with a number                  ings bond giveaways each inning,
   November with North Carolina                      of Individual Development Account                  wallets and piggy banks were dis-
   Treasurer Richard Moore serving as                providers in Jacksonville.                         tributed along with a chance to win
   the keynote speaker. The cam-                          New York Saves is in the process              money in the “Money Machine.”
   paign is also working with the                    of establishing a statewide coalition              The event was featured in two
   Financial Planning Association to                 and five regional working groups.                  newspaper articles and on four tel-
   celebrate “National Financial                          Northwoods Saves (WI) is                      evision stations.
   Planning Week” by offering work-                  making plans to participate in the                      Utah Saves held its first com-
   shops at public libraries. In addi-               national Roll Your Change event in                 munity-wide orientation, the Utah
   tion, it is partnering with Junior                October. Twenty-seven financial                    Saves Summit, in August. Held at
   Achievement to send the “Build                    institutions have agreed to donate                 the Federal Reserve Bank, the sum-
   Wealth, Not Debt” message to                      $50 savings bond prizes for the                    mit attracted close to 100 partici-
   10,000 Charlotte Mecklenburg                      local event.                                       pants. The campaign held its first
   School households.                                     Thirty-two Okaloosa Saves                     working group meeting in
                                                     (FL) volunteers donated approxi-                   September.

                        w w w . A m e r i c a S a v e s . o r g




                                                                                                     Washington D.C. 20005-0999
                                                                                                     P.O. Box 12099
 PERMIT NO. 8772
WASHINGTON, D.C.                                                                                              You Can Build Wealth
     PAID                                                                                                    AmericaSaves
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