Utah Council on Financial and Economic Education raises awareness of savings resources, focuses on reducing barriers for Utahns to access critical financial services

SALT LAKE CITY – February 22, 2023 – Utah Treasurer Marlo Oaks and community partners are raising awareness of the importance of saving and the resources available to help Utahns achieve their financial goals as part of the annual “Utah Saves Week” campaign. One focus of this year’s campaign is to reduce barriers for Utahns to access safe and affordable financial services.

NeighborWorks Salt Lake, a member of the Utah Council on Financial and Economic Education and the Utah Saves campaign coordinator, launched Bank On Salt Lake last year. Bank On Salt Lake is a collaboration between financial institutions, community-based organizations and government to connect Utahns to safe, affordable and certified banking accounts. According to Bank On, 19% of Utahns are unbanked or underbanked.

“Having a certified account through a bank or credit union means having a safe place to grow your money. Those who are unbanked or underbanked spend thousands of dollars every year using costly alternative services like payday loans, money orders and check cashing services to take care of their finances,” Treasurer Oaks said. “They are also more likely to lose their money through theft, loss or damage and less likely to save. I’m grateful for the efforts of those in our community to remove the barriers to accessing regulated financial services.”

Bank On Salt Lake Coalition Manager Sandra Martinez said, “There are unbanked and underbanked individuals from all socioeconomic backgrounds, but most tend to be lower-income and in a racial or ethnic minority group. Unbanked or underbanked individuals may be leery of the fees associated with traditional financial services or just generally untrusting of banks. Bank On works to build relationships and provide information to remove some of these barriers to low and no-cost financial services.”

In addition to increasing access to traditional financial services, members of the Utah Council on Financial and Economic Education are raising awareness of the importance of saving through social media, events and promotions.

Governor Cox declared February 27 – March 3 as Utah Saves Week in alignment with America Saves Week. Rep. Brady Brammer will read the declaration on the floor of the House and Sen. Ann Millner will read the declaration on the floor of the Senate on February 22.

Treasurer Oaks and Utah Jump$tart Coalition will visit schools to share the importance of saving with Utah Students, and the Utah Division of Securities is providing the public with information and resources to make informed decisions about their investments.

To promote educational savings, my529 is offering a special promotion to Utah residents who open a my529 account for a beneficiary new to my529 between February 1-28, contribute at least $20 and use the promo code 2023SAVE. At opening, my529 will add a $20 contribution. Click here to learn more.

“Start contributing regularly to a my529 account. It doesn’t have to be a lot of money. If it’s $25 a month, that’s going to add up,” my529 executive director Richard Ellis said. “What you save will make a difference, and those funds can reduce or even eliminate the need for student loans later on.”

Utahns are encouraged to pledge to save online at utahsaves.org to receive savings advice tailored specifically to their savings goals.

“I am grateful for the efforts of those in our community who are helping others find and use more secure and affordable financial services,” Treasurer Oaks said. “No savings goal is too little or too big. You just need to start somewhere.”

To learn more about Utah Saves Week, visit utahsaves.org and follow the Office of State Treasurer on social media.