By Rose Oswald Poels
Monday, Feb. 22 began this year’s America Saves Week. Since 2007, this national event has provided an opportunity for organizations to work with their communities to encourage financial responsibility, promote good saving habits, and develop a plan to achieve better financial stability.
Our industry knows well that America Saves is more than just a week out of the year. It is a pledge to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth over time. WBA is proud to promote this message through many of our organization’s efforts, namely our Wisconsin Bankers Foundation. The Foundation’s recent auction during the Bank Executives Conference raised nearly $13,000 to promote financial literacy in Wisconsin through education and research. Many of you were a major part of this success, whether by donating, volunteering, or bidding. The donations from this auction will help fund annual scholarships as well as the Reading Raises Interest Kits, a free resource to teach kids about the importance of financial responsibility in conjunction with Teach Children to Save Day. More information on these kits can be found here.
The awareness of this pledge is most notably made apparent through our bankers. It is inspirational that regardless of restrictions, the members of our industry continue to find a way to promote financial wellness. Over the last few months, I have had the pleasure of working with several Wisconsin bankers and other interested groups on a pilot program that will be launched soon only in Wisconsin to encourage small employers to work with their employees on establishing automatic savings through their payroll and participating bank. I will be sharing more news about this pilot once we are ready to launch it statewide.
In the meantime, I encourage all of you to take the America Saves pledge – though in countless ways, you already have through your normal daily activities with customers. Each day of America Saves Week focuses on a different theme, and Tuesday’s theme, Save for the Unexpected, especially speaks to the educational resources banks have provided for their communities. As the path of our economic recovery slowly moves forward, you are the ones that offer guidance on best practices, goals, and financial well-being to your customers. Not only do you promote this important part of a stable life, but you constantly play a primary role in its growth as well. During 2020, participating financial institutions reported that customers deposited over $363.8 Million as a direct result of their America Saves Week efforts. This year, sharing resources with your customers, families, and friends to create a better understanding of saving is once again critical. We cannot predict the unexpected, but we can, and we do, help others prepare for it. Please go to the America Saves website to sign the pledge to be a participating organization.