Savings

Asset Building News Week, July 15-19

July 19, 2013
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The Asset Building News Week is a weekly Friday feature on The Ladder, the Asset Building Program blog, designed to help readers keep up with news and developments in the asset building field. This week's topics include savings, child poverty, and a few quick hits.

Paper Release: Personal Savings and Tax Reform

July 22, 2013
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With Congress locked in a seemingly endless loop of disagreement and dysfunction, hoping for a big, bipartisan effort to reform our tax code seems more and more like wishful thinking. Still, there are signs of promise. Senator Max Baucus and Representative Dave Camp, both chairmen of their respective tax-writing committees, launched a nation-wide “road show” last week to bring attention to the need for tax reform. While much of the attention generated by the effort has focused on the big money of corporate tax reform, a more urgent issue for average Americans is reforming personal savings incentives. A new paper that I co-authored with Reid Cramer explains why our current system, though supposedly providing generous tax incentives to save for retirement, homeownership, and education, actually fails to support savings among lower- and middle-income Americans and, in doing so, wastes billions of taxpayers’ dollars every year.

Event Summary: Saving Financial Aid

July 15, 2013
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Today, the Asset Building Program co-hosted an event with the Assets and Education Initiative (AEDI) at the University of Kansas. The event focused on new research on the issue of children's savings for college and how policy can better help low- and middle-income students both get to college and stay enrolled. The research from the field is clear: having a savings account in a child's own name has a positive impact that is sustained even when controlling for family income, educational background and other important factors. A new AEDI report Building Assets, Delivering Results: Asset-based Financial aid and The Future of Higher Education was released at the event and is available now for download. We've done something new for this event and summarized the conversation in a Storify. Check it out here, or scroll to the bottom of this post to read it.

Upcoming Event: Saving Financial Aid

July 11, 2013
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The Asset Building Program is looking forward to hosting an event this coming Monday morning in collaboration with the Assets and Education Initiative (AEDI) at the University of Kansas. Join us on Monday, July 15th at 9:30 am here at our office in D.C. or live online. The event, Saving Financial Aid: Expanding Educational Opportunity and Reimagining the Way We Pay for College by Promoting Children’s Savings, will explore the relationship between savings and educational outcomes, the potential for policy to support the savings of lower-income Americans, and the importance of including an assets-perspective in the higher education financial aid conversation.

New Resources: Asset Limits Website and Policy Papers

July 11, 2013
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Today, the Asset Building Program is unveiling a new online resource about asset limits in public assistance programs. Asset limits have been a hot issue recently in the Farm Bill debate, with the House version of the bill calling for the elimination of states’ flexibility to set their own asset policies for SNAP. Though the House bill failed, the asset limit discussion isn’t over – particularly amidst new proposals to remove SNAP from the Farm Bill entirely, which some predict could be a strategy to pursue even bigger cuts.

This new resource, Modernizing Asset Limits: Promoting Savings, Simplicity and Self-Sufficiency is designed to serve as a tool for policymakers and the public about asset limits in both SNAP and other public assistance programs. It is accompanied by two new written products: a policy statement articulating a clear case for reform of asset limits across programs, and a SNAP-specific issue brief, which complement our recent research paper analyzing the state-level impact of asset tests on program access and administration.

Asset Limits in Public Assistance Programs

  • By
  • Rachel Black,
  • New America Foundation
July 11, 2013

For many low-income families, slight changes in their financial circumstances can have dramatic consequences on their wellbeing. Missing a rent payment when hours at work are cut, missing meals when winter comes to pay for heat instead, or missing an opportunity to move to a safer neighborhood because there isn’t money for a security deposit. In these situations, even a small amount of additional resources can make the difference between getting by, falling behind, or getting ahead.

Asset Limits in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • By
  • Rachel Black,
  • New America Foundation
July 11, 2013

Savings, even in modest amounts, have been shown to create a protective buffer within a family’s budget that minimizes these negative outcomes and promotes the positive.Ideally, savings would play a complementary role to the system of safety-net supports that are designed to provide temporary assistance to families for purchasing basic goods and services.

Pennsylvania Asset Test Slows Down Caseworkers

June 26, 2013
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New data from Pennsylvania show that the state is among the slowest in the country in processing applications for its SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) program. What’s causing the delays? Many advocates say too much paperwork and too much red tape – linked to the reinstatement of the SNAP asset test last year.

CalWORKs Reform Boosts Low-Income Families' Financial Security

June 24, 2013
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Last month, I co-authored an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle with Judy Darnell of the United Ways of California, urging the state’s lawmakers to allow participants in its TANF program, CalWORKs, to own a reliable vehicle. Last week, the California state legislature passed its new budget, which modifies the CalWORKs rules to exempt one vehicle worth up to $9500 in equity value, replacing the previous cap of $4650. The new rule also indexes the limit to inflation and excludes vehicles that are received as gifts. This is a small but important step forward toward ensuring that public benefits programs serve as a ladder to financial security for low-income households. This change will have a significant impact for many of the state’s struggling families.

New Report Sheds Light on Magnitude of the Retirement Savings Crisis

June 20, 2013
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A new report by the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) entitled “The Retirement Savings Crisis: Is It Worse Than We Think?” finds the state of retirement savings is looking pretty grim for many Americans. The researchers found that, “The average working household has virtually no retirement savings. When all households are included— not just households with retirement accounts—the median retirement account balance is $3,000 for all working-age households and $12,000 for near-retirement households.” On a webinar earlier today (slides from which you can view here), Nari Rhee and Diane Oakley of NIRS walked through the key findings and identified several salient policy implications of the report.

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