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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money
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The America Saves Challenge

What motivates you to learn a new habit? For some of us, a competition or challenge can give us the necessary "push" to practice a behavior so that it can become a habit. Have you had trouble making saving a habit? Well, then here is an opportunity to focus on this positive habit!

As part of America Saves Week (February 25-March 2, 2013), a time set aside annually to promote good savings behavior, the Cooperative Extension system is launching an online challenge called "2013 America Saves Challenge." This free five-week program, open to anyone who enrolls online, will be held from Sunday, February 24, through Saturday, March 30, 2013. Prizes will be awarded for participants who report the highest point totals at the end of each week and at the end of the challenge. What could be better? A chance to save money AND win prizes!

The America Saves Challenge is based on the performance of ten recommended financial practices on a daily basis. Ten points are given for performing each one for a maximum of 700 points per week and 3,500 points for the entire challenge (700 x 5 weeks). "The Challenge is a great way to convert personal financial goals, like saving money and learning about investing, into daily action steps," notes Dr. Barbara O'Neill, Extension Specialist in Financial Resource Management for Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

Now ten practices a day might sound like a lot but we all know that you have to repeat a behavior many times before it becomes a habit; one study found that people needed to repeat a behavior for an average of 66 days before the behavior felt automatic. And, these practices don't have to take a lot of time. Choices include:

  • visit a new page on the America Saves or eXtension Web sites,
  • send an electronic message to others about a personal finance topic,
  • do an online personal finance calculation or online financial quiz,
  • discuss information about personal finance topics with others,
  • repeat a positive affirmation about personal finance 10 times per day,
  • save a $1 bill (or more) and/or pocket change;
  • invest $5 or more per day (including automated retirement savings plan deposits);
  • track money spent throughout the day;
  • eat lunch prepared at home;
  • and learn something new about personal finance.

More details are available online when you register for the Challenge. To participate in the America Saves Challenge, visit the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Small Steps to Health and Wealth™ Challenge Web site at Set up a user name and password and download a one-page user's guide with instructions about how to proceed. Enroll in the Challenge titled "2013 America Saves Challenge." This challenge will be among a list of names of online challenges that are currently available to participate in.

Doing even one of the ten recommended daily financial practices is a great way to get started on the path to increased personal wealth and financial security. The more you do, the more likely saving will become a habit for you too!

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