by Ryan Nix
Women gathered from across Arkansas today (Oct. 10) to celebrate the kickoff of Save10, an initiative designed to educate women about the importance of saving for retirement. Specifically, if working people under 30 could begin intentionally putting aside 10 percent of their income into their work or personal retirement programs, they would be able to achieve what many millenials think impossible: comfortable retirement at 65.
The conference was opened by Anna Beth Gorman, executive director of the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas, one of the driving forces behind Save10. “More women than men live in economic stress, and that stress prevents them from living full, happy lives.”
Speaking next was Save10 co-founder Sarah Catherine Gutierrez, who believes a lack of financial literacy is the root cause of the retirement and savings crisis. “Not only are women not saving, Americans as a whole are not saving for their retirement,” says Gutierrez. “401(k)s are the way out of the retirement crisis according to our research. It’s automated, easy to sign-up for and the money essentially is locked away,” Gutierrez continues. “The reason for the 401(k) experiment’s failure is simply because people don’t pay into them.”
Gutierrez further explained that women are hardest hit mostly due to their time spent out of the workforce, either for maternity leave, infant care, or providing support for older relatives. “All people, but especially women need to remember to pay ourselves first. We ask all women to save 10 percent for retirement, and if you start in your 20’s, one day you will be able to retire,” says Gutierrez.
State Senator Missy Irvin, speaking for the Republican Women’s Caucus, iterated that we must do a better job of equipping young people with financial literacy as the first step out of the retirement crisis. Educational outreach is a major facet of the Save10 program with the goal that no student will be able to graduate high school or college without first hearing about the possibilities provided through saving 10 percent.
Also in attendance was Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr., who gave his support to the program while announcing the official partnership between the City of Little Rock and the Save10 movement with the declaration that October 10 will henceforth be known as Save10 Day. “We’re so excited to join this new movement for focus on personal savings, because when you do that you help uplift all residents,” says Scott.
He went on to say that the city already encourages its 2,150 city employees put 5 percent into their retirement savings, but now will go on to strongly encourage them to take the Save10 pledge, which is open to both women and men. “If you can teach 2,150 employees to move from financial insecurity to security, that education touches their families and continues to trickle across our city to every resident,” says Scott.
Save10 hopes to normalize retirement savings in the same way we’ve normalized taking on student loan and credit card debt, which has forced many Americans to live paycheck to paycheck, using money they would normally save just to pay off loans and keep their heads above water.
According to a Harris Poll national survey of over 2,300 full-time employers and nearly 3,500 full-time employees, nearly 78 percent of U.S. workers live paycheck to paycheck, 71 percent of workers are in debt and 26 percent aren’t actively saving money. When asked about Save10’s ability to reach these people and the efficacy of its educational message, Gutierrez said, “The program is aimed for these people, we’re really trying to challenge those who live paycheck to paycheck to save for retirement.”
However, Gutierrez also understands that for many saving 10 percent simply isn’t possible. “Of course there is a line where people cannot save, and we hope to use the power of Save10 to help lift up our fellow sisters and brothers who just don’t make a livable wage,” Gutierrez continues. “At the same time we’re making this call to save, we’re still saying we’ve got to still work on a lot of these systemic issues. We don’t know yet the power of all these women joining forces and amplifying other messages like pay inequality and a livable wage.” Gutierrez believes that the current focus on saving 10 percent for retirement is the first step toward greater financial freedom and security for all people.
Save10 has an active Facebook group, with over 5,000 members, all women, all speaking frankly and openly about their finances and saving plans. The Save10 coordinators hope that all of those active Facebook members will be inspired to take the Save10 pledge to put aside 10 percent of their earnings for retirement, with nearly 250 active pledge members at the time of this article’s writing.
Image courtesy of Save10 Campaign