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America Saves Weeks aims to make saving a habit for all Americans

Kia Young, America Saves Director of Communications, joins Yahoo Finance's Kristin Myers to break down a preview of America Saves Week 2021.

Video Transcript

KRISTIN MYERS: --our future segment. We want to chat about a new initiative called America Saves Week, which will help Americans on their path to financial wellness. We're joined now by Kia Young, America Saves director of communications. So Kia, let's start with, what is America Saves Week?

KIA YOUNG: Absolutely. Well, thanks for having me, first of all. America Saves Week has actually been around since 2007. And it really is an annual celebration for organizations to encourage their communities to take a week to take, like, a financial check-in.

So every day of America Saves Week, we have a daily theme, where we ask our savers to really sit down and think about their finances and get clear on where they are right now and where they want to be. And so, America Saves Week is next week. It's always the last week in February. So it's February 22nd through the 26th.

KRISTIN MYERS: And who should participate during this week? Is it just folks that are saying, you know, I haven't been great at savings. I need to do better at that. Is it for companies, perhaps, to even participate in saving? Who really should participate in this, what I'm going to call almost challenge, financial challenge?

KIA YOUNG: Absolutely, and the answer is everyone. So we have over 1,800 organizations who have signed up to participate in America Saves Week to bring the message of savings and to be effective with your savings to their communities. So they went to AmericaSavesWeek.org, signed up, and then America Saves, as an organization, provided our participating organizations with lots of tools and resources.

And then, on the saver side, their responsibility during the week is to truly just take that information, and again, do that financial check-in. So for instance, Monday, you save automatically, so really looking and seeing, like, have you set up split deposits for your direct deposit when you get paid each week. And so, it really is both for organizations who want to share their mission of saving successfully with their community and the savers, the everyday individual American, no matter where you are in your financial journey, to participate in.

KRISTIN MYERS: Now, how badly, as you guys see it, do Americans really need to improve on their savings habits? And then looking at stimulus, how much can stimulus help Americans really tuck some money away into their savings, or overall, improve their financial wellness?

KIA YOUNG: Absolutely. So we knew prior to the pandemic, right, that America was already in a savings crisis. We've all heard that stat from the Federal Reserve that said that close to 40% of Americans didn't have access to $400 in cash in case of an emergency. And that was pre-pandemic.

So we know-- we have watched what has happened over the past year. And we know that that situation has been exacerbated by the pandemic. And so, it's abundantly clear that people need help and support. And that's what we're here to do and to help them. And so, it's definitely something that's needed. And, you know, any way that we can support and, frankly, give people hope to get in a better financial situation, while recognizing that everyone is in a different place, right?

So being able to meet them where they are is super important. We definitely want everyone to feel positive about how they can overcome whatever situation that they're in. And so, that's really important to us that we meet our savers and just everyday Americans where they are financially, and that we're giving them support based on where they are.

KRISTIN MYERS: So how much either in total is typically saved throughout this week, or how much do, you know, households really find, once they start paying attention to their savings, that they actually are able to put aside in just one week?

KIA YOUNG: Absolutely. So in 2020-- so this was right before the pandemic-- we had over 1,300 organizations join us for America Saves Week. We reached over 1.2 million Americans. And collectively, those Americans were able to deposit over $363 million as a direct result of the America Saves Week effort.

So we're hoping to see that number rise this month. All of our participating organizations are really focused on just getting people in the habit of savings. We like to say that savings is a habit, not a destination. And so, it doesn't really matter if you're depositing $5, or you're depositing $500 into savings during that week. The goal is to get you in a positive mindset so that savings becomes a habit for everyone.

KRISTIN MYERS: All right, I'm actually going to take this on as a personal challenge. I'm going to see how much I can manage to put aside in just one week. I'll go on a financial fast, see how much money I have after the week is over. Kia Young, America Saves director of communications, thank you so much for this very important conversation.