America Saves Week & Wachovia
Photos: Dr. Melveaux catching money for charity.
I had the chance to speak with Dr. Julianne Melveaux, who is an economist, author and commentator, and President of Bennett College for Women. She was at the Wachovia America Saves Week event in Union Square San Francisco. I was inspired by her passion to help under-represented communities such as men and women of color build wealth.
America Saves is a national campaign involving more than 1,000 non-profits, government and corporate groups that encourages individuals and families to save and build personal wealth. www.americasaves.org
I went down to Union Square to partake in some of the activities for America Saves Week last Thursday. It was one of those gorgeous and sunny (nearly 70 degree days) where you just don't want to be sitting in the office. Wachovia made a big splash there with their money machines, giving participants the opportunity to catch as much money as possible to win $2,000.
The charity that Dr. Melveaux caught her money for was EARN. I has the opportunity afterwards to interview the founder Ben Mangan. I had been hearing about this new non-profit startup for years from my friend Alissa Lee who joined their Board of Directors. EARN breaks the cycle of poverty by matching the savings (2:1)of low-wage workers and helping them invest in assets that build wealth, creating a cycle of prosperity across generations. Catch my interview clips of Ben on YouTube: (less than a minute each)
EARN1, EARN2, EARN3
Wachovia gave EARN a $5,000 check. This was on top of $150,000 they gave to EARN last year. Thanks Wachovia! I truly believe in EARN's misson and Ms.Money is donating content to help educate their communities. Watch the video clip of the head of community banking presenting the check to Ben.
I also interviewed Jim Foley, a retail banking executive with Wachovia who described Wachovia's Way2Save(SM), a new savings program that makes saving automatic by allowing you to set up to a $100 a month to be automatically transferred in addition to $1 for every time you bank online or use your ATM or Visa card.
Jim talks about the savings crisis in America in this video.
Jim also discusses the results of Wachovia's survey on American's savings and how women differ from men and what Wachovia is doing to address women's needs specifically.
I feel one of the best ways for Americans to save, who normally have trouble socking some money away, is to do it automatically. If you don't have the money in your hands, you are less likely to spend it. Wachovia's product is a great way to get the savings ball rolling and on the path to financial prosperity for millions of Americans.
Thanks also to Wachovia for recognizing that women's financial needs are in fact different from mens'! (And offering services to meet those needs). You can read Wachovia's survey below.
MEN MORE LIKELY THAN WOMEN TO SAY
THEY ARE SAVING ADEQUATELY
Women Less Likely Than Men To Cite “Impulse Spending” And
“Spending To Feel Good” As Barriers To Saving
Washington, DC – In survey research recently undertaken by Wachovia and the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), more men than women said that “impulse spending” and “spending to feel good” were barriers to saving.
“We were quite surprised to learn that men are more likely than women to believe their impulsive shopping hinders saving,” said Kathryn Black, SVP and Savings Director for Wachovia. “After all, there is a powerful stereotype in our society that women are least likely to exercise restraint in shopping.”
The survey was designed and analyzed by Wachovia and CFA from data collected by Opinion Research Corporation in interviews conducted November 8-12 of more than 2,000 representative adult Americans. The margin of error was plus or minus two percentage points.
Men More Likely Than Women To Report They Are Saving Adequately
Men are more likely than women to say they are saving adequately. Forty-eight percent of men, but only 43 percent of women, reported that either they are “saving adequately to meet all their financial needs” or “have already saved enough to meet their needs.” Moreover, 20 percent of women, but only 14 percent of men, say that they “cannot afford to save at the present time.”
When asked how adequately they have saved for specific goals, again more men than women report that they are saving adequately:
• 72 percent of men but only 64 percent of women say they have adequate savings to pay for unexpected expenses.
• 62 percent of men but only 55 percent of women say they have adequate savings to pay for several months of regular expenses if a job is lost.
• 55 percent of men but only 51 percent of women say they are saving adequately for retirement.
The key factor accounting for these differences is disparity between economic status. More women than men cite, as barriers to saving: low or unreliable incomes (48% versus 40%), large regular expenses (39% versus 34%), and unexpected expenditures like car repairs (39% versus 34%). Other research indicated that these economic differences are not just perceived but are real.
“The correct perception of women that their financial status is less secure than that of men explains much of the differences in saving adequacy,” said Stephen Brobeck, CFA’s Executive Director.
Women Less Likely Than Men To Cite Social And Psychological Factors As Barriers To Saving
The perception held by some that women are more likely than men to be impulse shoppers was not supported by the Wachovia-CFA survey. Thirty-nine percent of men, but only 34 percent of women, said that “impulse spending on things like entertainment and clothes” was a reason they have difficulty building savings.
And women are also less likely than men to say that “spending to feel good” is an important barrier to saving – 26 percent of women but 34 percent of men. Moreover, fewer women than men (6% versus 10%) reported that playing the lottery or gambling discouraged saving.
“There are two competing stereotypes about differences between women and men in their shopping habits,” noted Wachovia’s Black. “One is that many women have more trouble than men restraining their impulse to buy things while the other is that women are the ones most carefully managing family expenditures. Our research suggests that the second stereotype is more accurate than the first.”
Research Supports CFA-Wachovia Savings Education Program To Be Launched During America Saves Week
The survey’s findings of savings inadequacy among both women and men support a new savings education program that CFA and Wachovia will launch throughout Wachovia markets during America Saves Week beginning February 24. This program will be one of many savings activities undertaken by hundreds of government, non-profit, and business groups during the Week. The 2007 America Saves Week last February was a pilot program in which national organizations, such as the Federal Reserve Board, Department of Defense, Internal Revenue Service, Cooperative Extension, and United Way, participated.
“In 2008, we are expecting significant participation in the Week by hundreds of national, regional, and local organizations,” noted CFA’s Brobeck. “In several years, we hope that during America Saves Week, thousands of organizations will persuade and assist millions of Americans to evaluate and improve their savings capacity.”
Wachovia Corporation (NYSE:WB) is one of the nation’s largest diversified financial services companies, with assets of $754.2 billion and market capitalization of $95.3 billion at September 30, 2007. Wachovia provides a broad range of retail banking and brokerage, asset and wealth management, and corporate and investment banking products and services to 13 million household and business customers.
CFA is a nonprofit consumer organization that, since 1968, has sought to advance the consumer interest through research, education, and advocacy. It manages the America Saves organization and, with the American Savings Education Council (ASEC), the America Saves Week.