How to win $5,000 just for sharing a money lesson with a friend
For most cash-strapped people, however, the challenge is particularly tough. How do you save money when you're already struggling?
A new educational website, EndangeredSavers.com, offers lots of ideas -- and makes learning about saving money fun, too.
The site is powered by Capital One Bank, but it doesn't push any products.
Instead, EndangeredSavers.com features:
- Advice and articles from experts, including myself, on how anyone can stash away more cash (Think: tips for 20-somethings, people who want to buy a house, those who like to party and more);
- Humorous videos, hosted by comedian Chris Hardwick, the guy from the Web Soup series on G4. In the videos, people compete head-to-head in money-related games and trivia battles (I dare you not to laugh at Video No. 3, where a woman named Sierra clucks like a chicken. Don't ask: just watch to see what I mean);
- A saver quiz, which shows you eight types of savers (I didn't quite expect to be a "High Roller" -- but I was!);
- interesting money statistics (Did you know that 45% of working Americans are now brown bagging lunch, instead of buying it?)
Also of interest: there's a sweepstakes where you get the chance to win cash: $5,000, just for sharing what you learn. Simply share your quiz, an EndangeredSavers.com video or any savings tip you get from the website with your friends and family on Facebook or via email.
This sweepstakes element of EndangeredSavers.com may be of particular appeal to women, who are typically far more apt to learn from and share money-related ideas with their social networks.
"It's more acceptable, culturally, for women to talk to each about money and even to say 'I don't understand all this stuff,'" notes Susan Hirshman, a Certified Financial Planner and author of the new book Does This Make My Assets Look Fat?
And hey, if you're going to talk money with your girlfriends anyway, why not jump-start the conversation -- and your savings account -- with five grand?
Even if you don't win a dime, you'll be better off by putting a priority on savings. Increasing your savings has enormous benefits, from boosting your short-term cash flow to helping you reach long-range objectives, like retirement. Other benefits of being a great saver include reduced financial stress and being better prepared for life's unexpected events.
According to the Commerce Department, the personal savings rate in America hit 5.9% in July 2010. That was down a bit from 6.2% in June, which was the highest level in a year.
A savings rate of about 6% is OK. But we all can -- and should -- be doing a lot better than that.
Putting away 10% of your annual salary should be your savings target. And let's not forget that it was just five years ago -- in July 2005 -- when the savings rate in America was actually at negative 1.1%.
So when it comes to saving more money, and doing it consistently through boom and bust times, we need all the help we can get.