After hitting a peak of over 14 percent in the mid 1970s, the current average personal savings rate is hovering around the 4 percent mark, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
If that low savings rate reminds you of someone you know – your kids, another relative, a coworker, a friend who always asks to borrow money – they may simply need a system to help them save more. You can help by pointing them to a structured savings method that has been making the rounds on Facebook recently.
The 52 Week Savings Challenge is a weekly commitment for saving money. Each week, participants in The Challenge deposit into their savings an amount corresponding to the week number of the program. So in Week No. 1, participants deposit $1; in Week No. 2, participants deposit $2 (which, when added to the previous week’s deposit, now totals $3; in Week No. 3, participants deposit $3 (making the total $6), and so on through Week No. 52.)
If you follow the above example, the total balance in the account after one year will equal $1,378 – not including interest. Those primed to save more than $1,378 (plus interest) over a year can fine-tune The Challenge formula to save much more (see sidebar).
Kassondra Moreland, the woman who has become the face of the challenge, is the perfect example of someone who hadn’t been very good at saving. The 47-year-old Oakland, California, native had a tough time putting money away from early on.
“My grandparents spoiled me rotten,” Moreland tells Straight Talk. “My grandfather would always tell me, ‘You need to save. You need to save.’ But then he always gave me everything.”
Later, as a grown-up, it was Moreland who treated herself well. “Shoes and clothes,” she answers, when asked what she spent her money on. “I love clothes. I just wasn’t saving.”
In the last few weeks of 2012, Moreland put in 53 hours of overtime at her job as a 911 dispatcher. And still, “In the end, it was all gone. I hadn’t saved anything. There was nothing I could fall back on. If I had a flat tire, I’d have to charge the repair. I wouldn’t be able to get any money out of my savings account.”
Then, right after New Year’s, Moreland discovered a Facebook post about The 52 Week Savings Challenge. Now, not only is she participating in The Challenge with a vengeance, she’s leading an effort to get others to do the same, too.
“I said, ‘We’re going to hold ourselves accountable,’ Moreland recalls. “So I created a Facebook page for everybody who said they would do The Challenge.” In just a couple of weeks, Kassondra’s 52 Week Money Challenge Facebook page has attracted almost 3,900 members.
Most importantly, Moreland wants parents to set an example – in much the same way you can help the savings-challenged in your life. “It’s important to teach our children how to save,” she says. “I really want to push parents to sit with their children at the computer when they make their deposit or take their children to the bank with them, and show them no money in, no money out.
Would you ever consider taking the 52 Week Savings Challenge? Do you have your own system for saving money?