Did you save enough money from clipping coupons to pay for a weekend getaway? Or did you shave off months and thousands in mortgage costs by making extra payments with your tax returns?
Share your saving success stories online and you could win a prize for your thriftiness from Utah Saves, a statewide consortium managed by the nonprofit AAA Fair Credit Foundation.
The first-ever Save-A-Thon contest is part of National Financial Literacy Month, a campaign to raise awareness and help people more closely examine their spending and saving habits during April, said chief executive Preston Cochrane.
"It ties in with taxes," he said. "April is that time of year when people are thinking about their financial situation and hopefully are able to be reinvigorated about saving."
Textbooks say your emergency nest egg should cover three to six months of your expenses. A good rule of thumb is saving 5 to 10 percent of your gross paycheck every month.
But saving has fallen out of fashion in recent years. According to a Federal Reserve survey on family finances, just 39.6 percent of Americans save regularly. Predictably, the number of families saving during the economic downturn fell from 56.4 percent in 2007 to 52 percent in 2010, the lowest saving level since the Fed began collecting data in 1992.
"For a while there, people were in the negatives," Cochrane said. "A lot of people weren't saving at all." But he says saving is generational and he hopes Utahns will embrace the habit again.
"You should save for a rainy day, " he said. "You never know when you're going to need it."
Will Vandertoolen, director of counseling services for AAA Fair Credit, said he recently spoke with a woman in her late-50s whose husband lost his job. Vandertoolen said savings became a lifeline for the Utah couple during the eight months the man was out of work.
"We are rarely able to anticipate financial emergencies," he said. "Planning needs to come into place today."
Vandertoolen advises starting small, setting aside even a tiny amount every month.
"Yes, you want to accumulate funds, but the other half is just to develop a good habit," he said.
The Save-A-Thon contest starts April 1 and runs through April 28.
To enter, you need to "like" the Utah Saves Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/utahsaves) and then post how you saved money and how much you saved. You can only enter once per day and winners from a random drawing will be announced weekly. Prizes valued at $25 and up range from gift cards to restaurant gift certificates.
Save-A-Thon celebrates savings
Share your saving success story and you could win. To enter:
Like the Utah Saves page on Facebook.
Post the amount of money you saved and how.
Prizes are announced weekly.
Contest runs April 1-28.