Virginia CPAs blend fiscal fitness with physical fitness

Sound mind, sound body, sound savings account?

The Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants (VSCPA) last month joined Radio Disney's Move It! tour, which urges kids and families to "join in on activities to get you gamin', groovin' and movin'."

Why would CPAs get involved? The national mall tour is all about healthy lifestyles. While Radio Disney celebrated music and movement, the Virginia Society of CPAs promoted healthy financial habits at mall stops in Chesapeake and Richmond over two weekends in July.

VSCPA volunteers talked to kids and their parents about saving and managing money responsibly. They handed out materials to help, including a 12-month financial fitness calendar (January 1, review your personal budget; April 5, check on IRA deductions; May 25, start rainy day savings).

VSCPA is sponsoring free workshops for August, including "Money-Wise Women" and "Race to Retirement" in Glen Allen, Va. They offer free financial advice from CPAs through the organizatin's "Ask a CPA" e-mail program, and a free e-newsletter, Financial Fitness Insider. See www.financialfitness.org for more on their initiative.

The big picture is that young people (not to mention their parents) aren't saving enough money. The VSPCA also pushed the national Feed the Pig campaign. Launched in 2006 by the AICPA and the Ad Council, it is aimed at 25- to 34-year-olds who, the website (www.FeedthePig.org) contends, have an average credit card debt of about $4,000, loan debt of $20,000, and the second highest rate of personal bankruptcy in the nation.

The AICPA says that the number of people in this age group who keep a savings account or other interest-bearing account has declined from 65 percent in 1985 to 55 percent in 2004. Their median net worth in the same time period? It's gone from $6,788 to $3,746.

According to the "National Savings Rate Guidelines for Individuals" in the Journal of Financial Planning, saving early is critical to expect enough money to fund retirement. "The recommended savings rate for a person starting to save at age 25 typically more than doubles if they wait until age 45 to start saving, and triples if they wait until age 55 to start," the study says.

A few tips from VSCPA:

 

    • Try to save 10 to 15 percent of your income
       
    • Contribute the maximum allowed under your retirement plan
       
    • Arrange for a fixed amount to be automatically taken out of your paycheck and sent directly to your savings account or money market account

    Maybe a regular savings plan just take a little discipline - you know, the same discipline it takes to exercise regularly.

     

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