2/17/2012

The Importance of Teaching Children to Save






Background:
According to a National Financial Capacity Survey by FINRA in December 2009, the financial landscape in the United States has changed significantly over the past decade.
  • Retirement: Shift from pension plans to participant savings 401 (k) type plans
  • More complex financial products: mortgages, savings and investing products
  • Greater choices in financial products means greater complexity of choices
  • In addition, the price tag for many components of the American dream - including purchasing a home or funding a child's college education - has risen since the 1980s and 1990s. Especially with respect to college tuition costs, that trend promises to continue.
Against this backdrop, the consequences of not having the necessary skills to make sound financial decisions become ever more severe. This is particularly true in times of economic instability, when resources may be more limited and negative financial events, such as the loss of a job or a sharp decline in income, more frequent.

Survey Results:
  1. Making Ends Meet. Nearly half of survey repondents reported facing difficulties in covering monthly expenses and paying bills.
  2. Planning Ahead. The majority of Americans do not have "rainy day" funds set aside for unanticipated financial emergencies and similarly do not plan for predictable life events, such as their children's college education or their own retirement.
  3. Managing Financial Products. More than one in five Americans reported engaging in non-bank, alternative borrowing methods (such as payday loans, advances on tax refunds or pawn shops). And few appear to be knowledgeable about the financial products they own.
  4. Financial Knowledge and Decision Making. While many American adults believed they were adept at dealing with day-to-day financial matters, they nevertheless engaged in financial behaviors that generated expenses and fees and exhibited financial products or shopped around before making financial decisions.
Current Statistics:
  • Personal Savings Rates remain around 4% nationally as consumers face ever-increasing costs.
  • Unemployment: Virginia average Dec. 2011 - 6.1%; while many Virginia communities exceed 15% unemployment rates, courtesy Virginia Employment Commission.
  • 50% of renters in Virginia are cost burdened and 36% of Virginia households live in liquid asset poverty without adequate emergency funds. In addition 52% of Virginia consumers have subprime credit, courtesy CFED Assets and Opportunity Scorecard- Virginia 2012
Reversing these negative trends will largely be dependent on Americans abililty to control spending, reduce debt and increase savings. Increasing public awareness about the need for savings is essential to family security.

Savings Campaign:
America Saves is a public awareness campaign of Consumer Federation of America. This campaign is created to inspire Americans to change their financial behaviors to increase savings and reduce dependence on debt.

Virginia Saves is a campaign to help Virginians to prepare for their futures by increasing their allocations to savings. This campaign is not designed to sell products but to increase financial knowledge.

Like most public awareness campaigns, children tend to be early adopters and can be great influencers of family behavior. This piggy pageant is designed to educate children about the need for savings while engaging them in a fun creative activity.

To learn more about the benefits of saivngs and ways to begin savings:
http://www.americasavesweek.org/ or www.virginiasaves.org  

Virginia Saves Piggy Bank Pageant

Virginia Saves Piggy Bank Pageant                         February 2012

Teachers and Adult Youth Program Leaders:

Inspire your group or class to create savings goals and develop the habit of regular savings for their future by engaging youth in building their own bank.

Local Pageant Guidelines for groups and schools–create your own theme:

·       One entry per child


·         Piggy bank must be created or decorated by child (with

minimal parental assistance) & must be able to hold coins.

·         Bank cannot be larger than 14 inches tall and 14 inches wide

·         Be creative! Use any theme or animal you want! It doesn’t

have to be a pig. Promote recycling by using old plastic containers

or other containers or add stickers or buttons to purchased banks.

·         Any entries displaying offensive art or language will

automatically be disqualified and not be displayed and will not

be eligible for prizes.

·         Hold a Piggy Bank Pageant in your group, class or school.

·         Choose a winner(s).

·         Photograph Winning Piggy Banks and submit registration form to Virginia Saves by 3/31/2012.

Virginia Saves 2012 Pageant Rules

·         The winner(s) of your group or class will be eligible for the state contest.

·         Entries will be judged by partners, advisory board members, and staff of Virginia Community Capital. 

·         Send an email with a fully completed registration form and electronic photo of winning bank to virginiasaves@gmail.com on or before March 31, 2012 to be eligible for prizes.

·         Contest entries will be on display at VirginiaSaves’ Facebook page.

·         Winning entries will be notified by April 30, 2012. Winners agree to promotional/ community news at Virginia Saves website/Facebook sites or press releases.


Questions:

·         Virginia Saves Contact: Teresa Walker, c/o Virginia Community Capital at:  virginiasaves@gmail.com, twalker@vccva.org , or via phone at 540-260-3126.

Virginia Saves is a campaign to help Virginians to prepare for their futures by increasing their allocations to savings. This campaign is not designed to sell products but to increase financial knowledge.

Like most public awareness campaigns, children tend to be early adopters and can be great influencers of family behavior. This piggy pageant is designed to educate children about the need for savings while engaging them in a fun creative activity.

To learn more about the benefits of savings and ways to begin savings:



Tax Access

Tax Access... A tool to help make your VITA site more accessible to people with disabilities

What is Tax Access?
The Tax Access project is designed to provide a "Safe Place" where Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site coordinators and volunteers can ask questions and find resources on how to serve people with disabilities more effectively. The Tax Access project focuses on disability issues related to VITA services including facility access, program accessibility, and customer service.

Please read the fact sheet for more information on how to access this valuable resource!

Annual Savings Survey Reveals Continuing Decline in Family Finaces But Also a Successful Savings Strategy

Hundreds of National and Local Organizations Join 6th Annual America Saves Week to Encourage and Assist Personal Saving

Washington, DC -- The fifth annual national survey assessing household saving revealed that, despite hopeful macroeconomic signs, an increasing number of Americans are having difficulty saving to meet goals ranging from meeting emergencies to affording retirement. Over the past three years, the number who spend less than their income and save the difference, are building home equity, have adequate emergency savings, and think they are saving enough for retirement has declined. However, the survey also revealed that having a savings plan has beneficial financial effects, even for lower-income families.

For more on this click here.

Courtesy of America Saves, Consumer Federation of America, and American Savings Education Council

2/15/2012

FINRA's Weathering Tough Economic Times - 12 Tips for 2012

Tough economic times have taken a toll on many Americans over the last couple of years. But making sound financial decisions and saving for the future can help you weather financial storms. The start of a new year is a great time to take stock of your finances, so the FINRA Investor Education Foundation has put together these 12 practical tips that can help keep your finances on course in 2012. For the 12 Tips click here.

Courtesy of FINRA Investors

IRS Free File

Let Free File do the hard work for you with brand-name software or online Fillable Forms. You can prepare and e-file your federal return for free. Participating software companies make their products available through the IRS. Some also support state tax returns.

For more information on the IRS Free File click here.

Courtesy of The IRS and Virginia CASH Campaign Partners

Free VA Tax Filing

Carolyn Spohrer, VA CASH Campaign and Virginia Community Action Partnership, introduced Governor McDonnell at the Virginia Free File Public Briefing on February 7, 2012. Governor Bob McDonnell said Tuesday that the VA Free File program gives more than 2 million low- and moderate- income Virginia taxpayers the opportunity to prepare and electronically file their 2011 federal and state income tax returns for free this tax season. The governor spoke at a public briefing on VA Free File at the Library of Virginia on Tuesday, Feb. 7. He was joined by Speaker of the House William J. Howell and Senator Richard Saslaw.

VA Free File is a public-private partnership between the Virginia Department of Taxation and the Free File Alliance, a coalition of commercial tax-software companies. The 2010 General Assembly approved the partnership. VA Free File is modeled after the highly successful Internal Revenue Service Free File program used by millions of taxpayers since 2003 to e-file their federal income tax returns for free. Free File lets taxpayers who meet certain eligibility criteria, including an income threshold, e-file their state and federal tax returns for free online using commercial tax-preparation software. Free File supports the Virginia 760 form for residents, the 760PY form for part-year residents , and the 763 form for non-residents.

"Last year only a fraction of those who qualified for free tax-return preparation and e-filing of their federal and state returns took advantage of Virginia's new Free File program," said Governor McDonnell. "This year I urge all Virginia taxpayers who earn $57,000 or less in adjusted gross income last year to go to the Tax Department's website to see if they qualify to use VA Free File."

To learn more about VA Free File click here.
For more on Governor McDonnell's Press Release on VA Free File click here.

Courtesy of VA CASH  Campaign, Virginia Community Action Partnership, Governor McDonnell's Press Release


EITC Finder

Who is the EITC Finder for?
The EITC Finder is specifically designed for lower and middle income taxpayers who can access the Internet on their smart phones. It is also for nonprofits and others that serve these tax filers. The app gives staff and volunteers the ease and flexibility of showing families - wherever they may be meeting - how easy it is to determine EITC eligibility.

How does it work?
The EITC Finder asks a few simple questions ... things like "Are you married or single?"; "How many children do you support?"; and "How much money did you earn last year?" If the information you enter indicates you qualify for EITC, the app estimates how much you could get back from the IRS and your state. Then it tells how you can easily claim the EITC by preparing and filing your tax return for FREE with one of the free products offered through IRS Free File.

Why does the EITC Finder refer people to Free File to claim EITC?
Free File is a public- private partnership between the IRS and commerical tax software companies. From www.IRS.gov/FreeFile, taxpayers can choose from among more than a dozen brand name software products. Each product provides step-by-step guidance for getting a more accurate tax return and claiming the tax credits and deductions they are eligible for, inlcuding EITC. They can transmit their return electronically and if they select direct deposit, they can get their refund in as fast as 7-10 days. All for FREE.

How can tax filers get help claiming EITC with Free File?
More than 300 IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs across the country are providing opportunities for people to use Free File products at their sites. A listing of the VITA sites offering Free File services is posted on the EITC Finder's support site, www.IntuitEmpowers.com.

Where can I find the EITC Finder?
Intuit's new EITC Finder is available in both English and Spanish on the App Store and Android Market. The release coincides with National Earned Income Tax Credit Day on January 27. For more information and video demonstration visit www.IntuitEmpowers.com.

Courtesy of Inuit Financial Freedom Foundation

Assets and Opportunity Scorecard

The recent release of the scorecard indicates that 20.9% of Virginia Families are asset poor, meaning that they do not have sufficient assets to sustain a three month loss of income. For single parent households 54.34% are asset-poor.

More astonishing is that if you remove illiquid assets like homes, vehicles and businesses, 35.9% of all Virginians and 82.57% of single parent households are liquid asset poor.

Without savings, a large number of Virginians do not have the resources to sustain them in times of financial stress.

For more click here (courtesy Corporation for Enterprise Development/CFED)

Courtesy of Lori Irwin, Financial Empowerment Program Coordinator at Virginia Beach Department of Human Services

2/13/2012

Love and Money

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, love is in the air, leading couples to talk about romantic getaways, special gifts and fun outings to express their love and affection. In addition to the candy hearts and fragrant roses, this season of love is also the perfect time to have candid conversations about financial matters with the one you love. For more on this and other articles click here.  To download a "Love and Money" ebook to help you discuss money with your partner click here.

Courtesy of Money Management International