Imagine you’re a 55-year-old single mom. You work in administrative support, making around $30,000 a year. Living paycheck to paycheck is the norm for you, and there’s no “planning ahead” for an unexpected expense because there’s no money set aside.
So what happens if you get a flat tire? If the utility bill is $50 higher than usual? If your sister doesn’t have the money to lend you this time around, and a credit card or line of credit just isn’t an option? You know you should set aside some savings for a rainy day—but saving seems impossible when you can barely make ends meet.
Challenges like these inspired the development of AARP Foundation MySavingsJar™, a free online resource designed to help older working adults and low-income families kickstart a savings habit and move from financial stress to financial freedom.
The program is community-based and enables users to obtain support from peers, as well as from expert financial coaches, which has been proven effective in helping people save. Users embark on an engaging journey to build small savings, step by step and on their own terms. Financial wellness activities and community challenges help users to increase their “financial IQ” and develop better habits when dealing with money.
Central to the AARP Foundation MySavingsJar model are the messages that it’s OK to start from zero savings, that it’s possible to save while still meeting basic expenses, and that even the most modest achievement can have a major impact on financial stability.
AARP Foundation MySavingsJar is a national program that the Foundation intends to deploy and support at the community level as well. The platform is customizable, allowing a city to fine-tune the tool to meet the unique pain points of its residents. This includes offering local financial products and services to users who live within a particular geographic region.
Currently, AARP Foundation MySavingsJar is being rolled out in specific urban communities through a test-and-learn model. This will allow the Foundation to discover best practices for integrating the tool into existing financial coaching models and programs as well as into financial empowerment services at the local level.
AARP Foundation joined Age Friendly Seattle staff on March 26–27, 2019 to deliver several community presentations about the tool. The Foundation is working with the Northwest Access Fund, the Homeless Providers Network, and the Financial Empowerment Network to design a test-and-learn experience, as well as to modify the platform in a way that best serves low- to-moderate-income older working adults and families in the greater Seattle area.
Contributors were Age Friendly Seattle program manager Brent Butler and AARP Foundation MySavingsJar project management team members Dat Tran and LaToria Pierce. For more information, visit www.mysavingsjar.org. For help signing up for AARP Foundation MySavingsJar, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.