America Saves

Interesting article in the NYTimes: Can Poor People Be Taught to Save?

Why can’t poor people save money? Part of that psychological barrier… was social pressure to not save; the minute people got a little surplus, friends and family would start asking for loans. There were other obstacles too. People in both communities feared losing welfare benefits if they accumulated cash. Many families didn’t even define savings monetarily; they talked about the things they would sell in desperation – baseball-card collections, heirlooms or other low-value assets.

Enter What is America Saves?

America Saves is a nationwide campaign in which a broad coalition of nonprofit, corporate, and government groups helps individuals and families save and build wealth. Through information, advice, and encouragement, we assist those who wish to pay down debt, build an emergency fund, save for a home, save for an education, or save for retirement.

It’s a social network changing the peer pressure in poor communities from spending and lending to saving. According to the article, “about nine million households have effectively no financial assets – nothing to fall back on for emergencies or retirement.”

Banks help out by joining the program and creating accounts that charge no fees and have no minimum balance requirements. Amazing.

Something credit unions should get involved with. Creating wealth and assets for those with none. Banking for the under-banked and under-served. Hey, isn’t that already our mandate?

PS: Thanks for the link, Rob

A new direction

I have recently been asked why I don’t give my opinion about web 2.0, social marketing, banking, etc on my blog. Why I limit it to a more frivolous link blog. I was surprised by the question: lots of people are talking social web and FIs. My favourites include:

Social Signal
Open Source CU
Net Banker

But then it occured to me, all of those are written by people outside of an FI. They’re written by supporters, vendors, partners, but not insiders. So I’m branching out and will start blogging more about trends I’m seeing, things I’m focusing on, ideas percolating under the surface. I hope I’m not stepping on anyone’s toes at these other fine companies and blogs. I admire and respect all of them, and merely am attempting to join their online conversation.

I also hope I won’t upset anyone at Vancity. I love the company and my job, and will strive to merely represent how we do business without giving away any trade secrets, inside information or anything else. I’m going to assume I have that freedom unless I’m told otherwise. Sara, I’ll wait for your call…

Now the question is, am I doing this for myself only, or is anyone else listening.