I learned the importance of saving money early in life. After birthdays or holidays, my father would take my brother and me to the local savings bank to deposit money into our accounts. We even had a small booklet to track the interest we earned between visits. I consider it to be one of the most important lessons from my parents.
Technology and innovation have made saving money a whole lot easier today, yet the savings rate in the United States is on the decline. In fact, roughly one-third of households having no savings at all.
How do we restore the spirit of saving? It’s the subject of a new report from Heritage’s Center for Policy Innovation, “Boosting Economic Mobility Through Prize-Linked Savings.” The paper explores how to increase the savings rate in America using approaches such as “prize-linked savings,” which draws on the appeal of a lottery-style prize system to save money.
This Friday at noon ET, we’ll tackle that topic as part of our Google+ Hangout series on innovative policy ideas, which is produced in conjunction with the Center for Policy Innovation.
I’ll be hosting the Hangout with three experts on the subject:
- Stuart M. Butler, Ph.D., Distinguished Fellow and Director of Heritage’s Center for Policy Innovation (@stuartmbutler)
- Justin King, Federal Policy Liaison of the Asset Building Program at the New America Foundation (@AssetsNAF)
- Joanna Smith-Ramani, Director of Scale Strategies for the Doorways to Dreams (D2D) Fund (@D2Dfund)
Butler is one of the coauthors of the new Center for Policy Innovation report on savings. Here’s an excerpt:
Building up savings, and a strong savings habit, is crucial to a person’s chances of moving up the economic ladder during his lifetime. So the spreading absence of saving in lower-income and even many moderate-income communities is a major obstacle to achieving the American Dream for Americans from these communities.
To strengthen economic opportunity in America it is necessary to revive the habit of saving. While financial education, readily available savings opportunities, and economic incentives are important to achieving that goal, it is also important to add an element of excitement to saving if it is to be appealing to many Americans. Today, such excitement tends to be limited to lotteries and games of chance that typically impoverish households and neighborhoods.
Prize-linked savings are a tested and intriguing device to divert an impulse for a thrill into a device that builds a positive habit and moves toward the goal of economic opportunity and mobility.