The Great Recession revealed a long developing challenge, Americans had become so reliant on credit that debt levels finally became unsustainable at the household level. 30 years of declining savings and increasing debt forced many Americans to pay a heavy price. While the past several years have shown some increases in savings activity, many families remain unable to take advantage of savings incentives that in this country are delivered primarily through the income tax system and employer benefit packages.
In order for our nation to enjoy a prosperous future, more of our nation will need the ability and wherewithal to accumulate savings and assets, and to use those assets to take advantage of life changing, and wealth building opportunities. To achieve the goal of a more financially secure, savings oriented, and financially savvy society, the Asset Building Program proposes that children's savings accounts should be established at birth for every American.
The America Saving for Personal Investment, Retirement, and Education Act (“The ASPIRE Act”) would set up a special account at birth for every child in America. The "Lifetime Savings Account" (LSA) can later be used to pursue post-secondary education, buy a first home, or build up a nest-egg for retirement. The ASPIRE Act calls for each child’s LSA to be endowed with a one-time $500 contribution at birth. Children living in households with incomes below national median income will be eligible for both a supplemental contribution of up to $500 at birth as well as the opportunity to earn up to $500 per year in matching funds for amounts saved in the account. Financial education would be offered in conjunction with the accounts. Funds in the accounts would be allowed to grow tax free and could be used to help pay for post-secondary education, home-ownership, or planning for a secure retirement.
For more information about the ASPIRE Act you can read and download the following materials:
Additional information on the ASPIRE Act includes:
Children's Savings Accounts: The Case for for Creating a Lifelong Savings Platform at Birth as a Foundation for a "Save-and-Invest" Economy by Reid Cramer and David Newville.
Promoting the Vision --The history of lifetime savings accounts, including the contributions of the SEED Initiative by Reid Cramer.
The United Kingdom has had a universal system of children's savings accounts in place for a number of years. To learn more about the Child Trust Fund, please click here.