Thought Leadership Thursday
Wisconsin Saves: Preparing for Emergencies to Strengthen Financial Security
Thought Leadership Thursday Article
Today is Veteran’s Day, a day we remember and honor the service and sacrifice made by the men and women of our armed forces. Every year on November 11th, I’m reminded of my grandmother, who left her small hometown of Hudson, WI to serve in the Navy during World War II. I’ll never forget her words of advice to me - to “ask for forgiveness, not permission.” She’s someone who inspires me every day in my service as Wisconsin’s State Treasurer, and I hope we can all take a page from her book today to do all we can in service of others.
As many of you know, 27% of Americans do not have enough savings to cover a $400 emergency. Here in Wisconsin, nearly half of individuals lack a rainy day fund to cover expenses for three months, in the case of sickness, job loss, or other unforeseen hardships. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the need for our citizens to be prepared to weather emergencies that may threaten their financial security.
This past May, our office joined in launching the statewide Wisconsin Saves Automatic Savings Initiative to empower Wisconsinites to establish emergency savings accounts through direct deposit from their paychecks. This first-of-its-kind pilot program is a public-private partnership being led by the Wisconsin State Treasurer’s Office, the WI Department of Financial Institutions, the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA), the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC), and America Saves.
Too many people were not prepared for the lasting economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Wisconsin Saves focuses on the role of employers in promoting the importance of saving for emergencies to their employees. The financial stress of workers is significant, and when employees are worried about their personal finances, they may miss work or be less productive during the day. Employers can serve as a powerful source of information for workers and can have a positive impact on their financial lives.
So far nearly 100 employers, representing approximately 9,000 employees, have signed up to participate in the Wisconsin Saves Initiative. The program provides free tools for supporting employees in setting up automatic deposits for emergency savings accounts. Setting up split deposit through their employer or financial institution is an effective way for Wisconsin workers to ensure they’re setting money aside on a regular basis for emergencies. Even small amounts, saved automatically each pay period, can make a big difference.
I hope all of Wisconsin’s employers will join us in this effort to help improve the financial well-being of our workers. Wisconsin employers can sign up to participate in the Wisconsin Saves Automatic Savings Initiative at autosave.wisconsinsaves.org.
Our coalition will be conducting a survey of participating employers to capture best practices and lessons learned. We plan to develop a resource kit for those across the country interested in launching their own initiatives. If you’re interested in engaging in this effort or have any questions, please reach out to Carolyn Pemberton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Forward, (The Wisconsin Motto)