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ICBA Encourages Americans to Save During America Saves Week February 20-27

Washington, D.C. (February 20, 2011)-The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) is proud to add its voice to the nearly 1,000 organizations nationwide that are encouraging Americans to save as part of America Saves Week, Feb. 20-27.

"Saving is key to financial stability and independence," said Jim MacPhee, ICBA chairman and CEO of Kalamazoo County State Bank in Schoolcraft, Mich. "Studies show most Americans have too much debt and not enough savings. The recent economic crisis demonstrated just how important it is to have a cushion to help you weather the unexpected. Now more than ever, people need to develop good saving habits. By participating in America Saves Week, ICBA and our nearly 5,000 member community banks are helping raise awareness of how important it is for community bank customers to make saving a part of their everyday lives."

 ICBA offers the following simple tips to help you boost your savings:

  • Pay yourself first. Join a retirement plan at work that automatically deducts money from your paycheck. You can also have money automatically withdrawn from your checking account into your savings or an investment vehicle. Many employers offer automatic payroll deduction, one of the best ways to start and keep saving.
  • Create a spending plan. Unlike a strict budget, a spending plan is a guide to help you take better control of your finances by tracking where your money goes. In a spending plan, you list expenses, compare them to income and then make changes based on your priorities.
  • Start small. Save your loose change. Setting aside just 50 cents a day for one year can garner you a $500 emergency fund.
  • Long range, aim to have an emergency savings of six to nine months of living expenses.
  • Use your credit cards wisely so that you don't take on too much debt and minimize interest charges.

It is also important to consider these factors in choosing where to place your savings:

  • Access. How quickly can you access your money? Community banks are local and use up-to-the-minute technology so that customers can access their money when and where they need it.
  • Safety. How safe is your money? At community banks, the FDIC insures deposits up to $250,000 per depositor and $250,000 for certain retirement accounts. No one has ever lost a penny of FDIC-insured funds. Talk to your community banker for more information.
  • Earnings. How much money will you earn?  Community banks offer personalized customer service tailored to individual needs and savings products and services at rates that are comparable to or often better than larger institutions.

"Fortunately, it's never too late to start saving," MacPhee said. "Your local community banker can help you create a savings plan to help you reach your financial goals."

America Saves Week is a nationwide campaign in which a broad coalition of nonprofit, corporate and government organizations help individuals and families save and build wealth. Through information, advice and encouragement, America Saves Week assists those who wish to pay down debt, build an emergency fund or save for a home, education or retirement. Learn more about why saving is so important and how to get started on building a nest egg at ICBA's Web site and the America Saves Web site.

To find a community bank near you, visit ICBA's Community Bank Locator. To learn more about community banks, go to www.icba.org.