For the fourth consecutive year, Mayor William D. Sessoms, Jr. has proclaimed Virginia Saves Week in Virginia Beach. As part of America Saves/Virginia Saves Week 2014, scheduled for Feb. 25 to March 2, Mayor Sessoms and the Financial Empowerment Coalition, created as part of the Mayor’s Action Challenge, are spreading the Virginia Saves message and encouraging citizens to take action to increase savings.
Virginia Saves Coordinator Teresa Walker said, “Savings is the key to breaking the cycle of payday living. By encouraging strategies for building savings, Virginia Saves is helping families create a path out of financial instability.”
To help people save more successfully and encourage more people to save, the Virginia Beach campaign is participating with “Save Your Refund,” a tax time incentive program to encourage citizens to split their refund and deposit a portion to savings. Weekly $100 prize drawings and a grand prize drawing of $25,000 are being offered. During the current tax season taxpayers across the United States have enrolled in this incentive reporting over $1.3 million of savings. Learn more at https://www.saveyourrefund.com/home/.
At local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites, taxpayers are receiving information about planning to save a portion of their refund for future expenses and for the unexpected. VITA assists families with household income of $52,000 or less to ensure all eligible families have access to the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Other savings programs in partnership with the Financial Empowerment Coalition include Virginia Individual Development Accounts, which provide matched savings of $2 for every $1 saved toward education, homeownership and small business development. The Virginia 529 program offers education savings programs for as little as $25 per month for higher education. Bank On Virginia Beach participants can get matched savings of $150 to establish emergency funds to protect vulnerable households against high-cost payday lending. To find out more about Financial Empowerment programs, visit www.vbgov.com/fe.
Since 2010 when Virginia Saves was established, Virginia Beach savers have committed $543,733 in annual savings. In 2013, savers reported that they would save $76,100 toward emergency savings. Emergency savings was the primary goal of 45.6 percent of those pledging to save.
Recent data released by Assets and Opportunities Scorecard identifies a deficiency in liquid savings as a barrier to financial stability. In Virginia, 35.6 percent of all households are “liquid asset poor” — without sufficient liquid assets to subsist at the poverty level for three months in the absence of income, 2011. Virginia Saves helps families overcome these barriers to financial stability by encouraging personal savings.
In October 2010, Mayor William D. Sessoms, Jr. joined the National League of Cities Mayors’ Action Challenge for Children and Families and set specific, measurable, locally defined goals and targets for child and family well-being in the following areas: Opportunities to Learn and Grow; A Safe Neighborhood to Call Home; A Healthy Lifestyle & Environment; and A Financially Fit Family in which to Thrive. The Virginia Beach Department of Human Services Department (HSD) is the lead agency on strategies to improve the financial capability of families. Through partnership with various financial institutions, the Hampton Roads Financial Planning Association, and numerous other community resources, the department connects citizens to resources and education designed to help them become financially secure.
In January 2012, HSD launched the 500 Families Financially Fit for the Future program and Bank On Virginia Beach. For more information about these programs visit www.vbgov.com/fe or call 757-385-3551 and speak with Financial Empowerment Coordinator Lori Irwin.
America Saves Week is coordinated by America Saves and the America Savings Education Council. The Week is an annual opportunity for organizations to promote good savings behavior and a chance for individuals to assess their own saving status.
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