The importance of an emergency fund is often mentioned, but often the hardest thing is to get started. SaverLife.org is a program run by the nonprofit EARN to help working families by encouraging savings. Their idea here, essentially, is to kickstart a savings habit by paying a cash incentive for saving a least $20 each month for 6 months.
How it works. First, make sure you are age 18+ and have a US bank or credit union account. Taken from their FAQ:
- Join now by clicking the “Join Now” button at the top right corner of this page.
- Enter your name and email address.
- Connect your bank account to SaverLife by entering your online credentials so we can track how much you save.
- Save at least $20 each month for 6 months in your own bank account. We don’t touch your money, so you’ll need to move money to your linked account yourself.
- Earn $10 in rewards each month that you save at least $20.
- After 6 months, you can claim your rewards ($60 max) by completing an exit survey and entering your bank’s routing number and your account number.
You can set a goal higher than $20 a month if you’d like, they just set the bar to be encouraging to as many people as possible to start saving. You’ll receive weekly savings tips as well. SaverLife is not a bank or savings account. The money paid is not interest. If you sign up by April 13th, they promise additional “prizes”. Here’s an example of the motivation behind the nonprofit EARN:
Ideally, you should connect a savings account as they will basically take a snapshot every 30 days to see if your balance is $20 higher than the previous month. For example, if you join on April 10th, then they will check your balance again on May 9th. If you have a savings account, it will be easier to make sure you qualify by simply adding $20 to the account. Having a separate high-yield savings account is a better way to encourage savings anyway.
Bottom line. SaverLife is a free program designed to encourage household savings for working households. Link a bank account and earn $10 cash for every month that you save at least $20 (up to $60 total). I think this is a worthy effort, although I hope they perform some honest, long-term tracking and share if it really helps to develop a regular savings habit.
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