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Saving important even in a tough economy
America Saves Week puts emphasis on building a nest egg
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Member Service Representative Teresa Bruce helps someone over the phone Monday at the Lanier Federal Credit Union in Gainesville. Lanier Federal Credit Union offers a variety of ways to help people save. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

While the economy is down, the last thing some want to think about is saving.

But that is exactly what organizers of America Saves Week want more people to do.

Organizers with America Saves and the American Savings Education Council are encouraging people this week to assess their finances and find ways to build wealth and decrease debt.

Finding money to save may be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be, say some local experts.

“There’s no such thing as too little to save. If you’re working, you need to put something into savings so that it can grow,” said Judy Barfield, executive vice president of deposit services for Lanier Federal Credit Union in Gainesville.

In addition to having a traditional savings account, Barfield said the credit union has savings opportunities to help people pay for expected expenditures.

“We have Christmas and vacation savings (accounts) to help them save. Once you put the money in, you aren’t allowed to touch it until a certain time of the year,” Barfield said. “A lot of employers will allow you to deposit money into a savings account directly from your paycheck, which is what I recommend to people because that way you don’t really miss the money.”

Experts say it is important for people to start planning for their retirement long before they reach their golden years.

“With the current state of the economy, many Americans may not be thinking about preparing for retirement. However, it is important to be saving now, especially since retirement can last a long time,” said Jason Fichtner, Social Security Administration chief economist.

“For example, the typical 65-year-old today can expect to spend about 20 years in retirement, so a little planning now can help you meet your retirement goals.”

If future retirees haven’t started saving yet, some banking industry officials have advice for those looking for a starting point.

“I would start by saving up in a savings account until I had the minimum amount to purchase a (certificate of deposit),” said Susan Williams of Peach State Bank and Trust in Gainesville. “Normally, the minimum for a CD is $500.”

A certificate of deposit is generally issued by a banking institution. Depositors invest a given sum for a specified period of time until it reaches maturity. Once it matures, the depositor receives his or her initial deposit plus interest.

“We have a 90-day CD, but more people tend to go with at least a one-year CD. The longer the term, the more interest it earns,” Williams said.

“CDs earn more than a savings account, and it’s money you don’t touch, so you never even miss it.”

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