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You’ve got goals for your life—and some of them take money to achieve


America Saves Week infographic

When you look ahead to your future, what kind of changes do you see?

You might envision major changes, like moving to a new city for a new job, starting a family, or helping your kids move out and live on their own.

You might anticipate smaller changes too, like starting a hobby or exercise program, upgrading your home appliances or technology, spending more time with friends or family, or volunteering more. Maybe you want to reduce your debt, or save up for a purchase instead of charging it.

Goals, whether long term or short term, usually cost money to accomplish. That means when you have a life goal, you probably have a financial goal, too.

Life goals—and financial goals—can be small or large, short-term or long-term. Helping consumers reach their own goals is an important part of our mission. Whatever your goals are, here are a few steps that can help you reach them:

  • Set a financial goal. Let’s say you want to go on a vacation next year, and you set a goal of saving $1,000.
  • Break it down into specific steps. You could decide to save $1,000, for example, by bringing lunch from home instead of buying it for $5 a day. Or you could set aside $20 from your pay every week for 50 weeks. Or you could find additional income from an extra shift or side job.
  • Set up the system you need to make it work. Sometimes we forget the small things that can get in our way—like making sure you have the right kitchen supplies and groceries to make lunch every day, or opening a savings account to keep your vacation fund separate. Set up what you need in your life, so that you don’t have excuses to miss your goals.
  • Get help sticking to your plan. You can set up automatic transfers at your bank, moving funds automatically from checking to savings. You can set a weekly alarm on your phone. You can ask a friend to remind you—or join you and save along with you.

America Saves Week can help you get started—and stay on track

Taking place from February 23-28 this year, America Saves Week gives you an annual chance to get started on saving. If your own goals include saving for the future, take the America Saves pledge today, and you’ll stay motivated all year with tips and reminders.

Now is the time to think about how to achieve the changes you envision for yourself. Know what motivates you, then take action. By meeting your financial goals, you’ll make a start on following your life goals.

When thinking about setting financial goals, consider what financial well-being means to you. Learn more about what consumers across the country told us about their financial lives and views of financial well-being.

No-sweat ways to help kids start out strong, financially


America Saves Week is coming up on Feb. 23. This annual event helps thousands of us start out on a regular program of saving money toward our goals. We’ve all got goals and plans for the future, and a lot of them cost money.

Parents, take the America Saves pledge and get started on saving today.

If you’re a parent or caregiver, setting up savings is also a great opportunity to include your kids. Here’s a quick guide to encourage your kids to start thinking about saving. We’re never too young (or old) to learn!

For kids age 3 to grade 2: Talk about basics and plans

Most young children aren’t ready to talk about bank accounts or compound interest, or think too far into the future. But they can use basic math and understand what it means to plan ahead—both are important building blocks for good financial habits. Try these activities:

  • Talk about events that need advance planning, like a special birthday or holiday, trip, or occasion. With your child, make a list to get ready. (It doesn’t even need to be about money—it could be any kind of planning ahead, like what kind of food you’ll make or bring, or what you’ll pack in a suitcase.)
  • Ask how much money you could spend now, if you have $10 and you save $1 for later. If your child is ready, offer a way to save in a piggy bank or jar kept in a visible location. After a while, check in to ask how much is in the jar, and talk about what your child plans or imagines for the money.

For kids grade 3 to middle school: Emphasize values and what money means to you

Kids in this age group are looking to you to understand what’s “normal” in the world of money. This helps them build a good mindset and start to appreciate what your family’s values are. And they can start habits of their own. Try these activities:

  • Talk about the advertisements that you see together. Take a picture or cut out ads that stand out for you in some way. If it’s something your child wants, talk about whether it means giving up something else.
  • Tell your child a story about having saved money, or missing out on saving, and what you learned from your own experience.

For young people in high school and older: Work on research and real-life decisions

High school students are typically ready for some hands-on lessons about money. From you, they can learn how to go about asking the right money questions and finding reliable answers. And they can experience for themselves, at a small and safe level, how it feels to manage their own funds. Try these activities:

  • Ask your kids to help you choose a savings account. Decide together what features you’ll compare, like services, conveniences, and fees. If you want, go ahead and open the account for your teenager! (For kids under 18, you’ll probably have to bring along all your paperwork and put your name on the account.)
  • Help your teenager come up with a money habit he or she can stick to—like bringing only a small amount of cash when going out with friends, or mentally calculating how many hours of work it would take to pay for a purchase.

Four elements define personal financial well-being


You probably have a few goals in mind when it comes to thinking about your financial life. You might think about taking more control over bills, or getting to a specific point like paying off a credit card, or making an important purchase. We want to help people improve their financial lives, so we want to help them set goals that can make a real difference, and work toward them. That’s why we talked to consumers across the country, to hear what they had to say about financial well-being and what it means to them.

You can see what we learned in our report on financial well-being.

Savings and income are part of financial well-being, but we learned that they’re not always the most important part. Instead, when people talked about their own financial well-being, four main elements came to light.

Feeling in control

People who have high levels of financial well-being feel in control of their day-to-day and month-to-month finances. They cover their expenses and pay their bills on time, and generally they do not worry about having enough money to get by. This is not just about having money, they told us, it’s about managing it. Think of this as having financial security, in the present.

Capacity to absorb a financial shock

Whether they get in a car accident or are temporarily laid off from a job, these consumers have a safety net such as savings, insurance, or family to help stop a shock from turning into a longer-lasting setback. One way to describe this is feeling financial security, for the future.

On track to meet goals

Consumers with a higher sense of financial well-being tell us they are on track to meet their financial goals. Whether or not they have a formal financial plan, they are setting goals that are important to them, and working toward those goals. Think of this as moving toward financial freedom, for the future.

Flexibility to make choices

These consumers have the financial freedom to make the choices that allow them to enjoy life, whatever that means to them. Whether that is taking a family vacation, going out to eat, or working less to spend more time with family, these consumers have the financial flexibility to do what they value and what makes them happy. This can be described as having financial freedom, in the present.

Applying this framework to your own financial life might help you feel more satisfied with the decisions you make too. When you face a financial choice or task, consider how your actions might affect financial security and financial freedom, today and in the future. To learn more about how consumers described financial well-being in their own words, check out the full report.

Helping more consumers use our services in other languages


We’re working to reach more people with our services and information, and we could use your help.

About 24 million people in the United States say they don’t speak English “very well,” according to the Census Bureau. In this group, people are likely to be more comfortable with Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin or Cantonese), French, Haitian Créole, Tagalog, Korean, or Vietnamese—the most commonly spoken languages in the United States other than English. We know that financial products and services can be confusing even for native English speakers, and for those who primarily use another language, navigating the marketplace can be even harder.

We’re proposing a Language Access Plan, as part of our public commitment to providing services and information in languages other than English. With more information available in their native language, more people can avoid confusion, mistakes, and even fraud.

Our proposed Language Access Plan is now available for review and comment. In addition, you can provide feedback on specific areas where we want to connect with consumers who use a language other than English. Your input can help us improve how we:

  • Explain consumer protections
  • Provide access to our complaint system
  • Communicate during supervision and enforcement actions
  • Distribute consumer guides and tools
  • Use online communities and social media
  • Reach out through community organizations

You’re welcome to comment on our proposed Language Access Plan and related programs and activities until January 6, 2015. If you work with consumers who primarily use a language other than English, we encourage you to participate and share your comments.

A new school year, a new resource for parents and kids


Parents are the strongest influence on how kids learn and think about money, and the back-to-school shopping season is a great time for some major money lessons.

This year, try thinking differently about back-to-school shopping. While you plan and shop, say what you’re doing—your children are listening. You don’t have to give lectures. Just make it a point to talk through your money choices as you make them:

  • Show them how you set a budget and make a list before you leave home.
  • Let them hear you shop around and compare quality, quantity, and prices before you buy.
  • Think out loud about how promotions, special offers, and taxes affect your choices.

It’s never too early to help your kids make smart money choices – and it’s never too late. To help, we’re working in collaboration with the FDIC to collect and share resources for parents. We’ve posted age-appropriate activities, ideas, and links for parents and children, on the topics that parents told us they care most about. We’ll continue to add resources over time, so check back with us often.

Helping build financial capability across America


We just published our second annual financial literacy report to Congress. It outlines our strategy and what we’ve done over the past year to enhance financial literacy and capability. In the report, you’ll find out about the tools and information we provide to help consumers navigate financial choices. You’ll see how we collaborate with organizations that reach consumers where they are, and how we research effective approaches to financial education.

Financial literacy is gaining attention worldwide. For the first time, a study of educational achievement has compared the financial literacy of young people across the globe. The results show that 15-year-olds in the United States are in the middle of the pack, compared to their peers in 17 other nations and regions that participated in the study.

We’ll put these results to work—collaborating with other government and educational agencies to look at promising solutions, innovative approaches, and scalable strategies for educating the next generation of young Americans.

Director Richard Cordray has said this about why financial literacy is so important: “Even as we work to improve the consumer financial marketplace, we recognize that it will remain a complex, dynamic part of our economy. It is therefore fundamentally important that consumers be equipped to navigate the marketplace and the financial choices they face effectively to achieve their life goals.”

Support for financial decisions

Sometimes you need a quick answer to a financial question. You can turn to Ask CFPB, a searchable resource with reliable answers to common questions—in English and in Spanish. Sometimes you need to work through a large financial decision, like paying for college or shopping for a mortgage. Today you can use our Paying for College module, and our Owning a Home tools and resources are coming next.

Managing our financial lives

Conversations about money decisions and money management can happen wherever people share information. Here are a few examples of how we’re helping to create opportunities to increase financial capability:

Helping people take more control over their economic lives is essential to our mission, and it is essential for individuals and families to get the most out of their financial lives. We’re continuing to work with groups and organizations that share this goal, to bring greater financial capability to everyone in America.