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Campaign Encourages Women to Save 10%

3 min read

A statewide campaign is calling on Arkansas women to take control of their futures by changing how they think about retirement.

Sarah Catherine Gutierrez and Stephanie Matthews have developed the Save10 Campaign, an initiative of the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas, to encourage women to put aside 10% of their earnings into retirement savings.

Their goal is to normalize saving the way that consumption and debt have been normalized. To do this, the campaign is leveraging peer group power, the influence that friends and family and co-workers can wield.

Matthews, a strategic communications consultant in Little Rock, is the co-founder and director of the Save10 Campaign, and Gutierrez, founder and partner of Aptus Financial, is the other co-founder.

In her role as a financial adviser, Gutierrez was encountering women who’d never been asked to save, who when they’d started their first jobs out of college had never been encouraged to sign up for the company 401(k) or put aside a portion of their salary for retirement.

“Can you imagine if you’d started your first job out of college, and someone said to you, ‘Hey, you always save 10%,’ or ‘When you start your first job, make sure you join the retirement plan, put 10% in’? Gutierrez asked. “You would have never felt it. You would have never stopped doing it. And you would have woken up one day with a retirement plan.

“It’s an unbelievable missed opportunity.”

And, she said, she thinks that “it’s more powerful to have friends and family and people you trust tell you to save 10%, that you’re more likely to do it.”

The target is women because they’re more likely to face poverty in retirement. A 2016 study by the National Institute on Retirement Security found that women are 80% more likely than men to be impoverished at age 65 and older, largely because the average income for women 65 and older is 25% lower than that of men.

There are a number of reasons for this, among them that women earn less than men and the fact that they are more likely to leave the paid workforce to work as caregivers for children and other family members, factors that work together to lessen women’s lifetime earnings. That means saving for retirement is even more important for women.

Gutierrez described the campaign as “an army of volunteers that are spreading the message of saving 10.” And while it was her idea, “execution on something like this is the far bigger task.”

That’s where Matthews comes in. She had just finished the Bank On Arkansas effort, an initiative to reach out to unbanked and underbanked Arkansans to ensure their access to safe, affordable banking. “That was a massive organizing effort, so she knew what it would take to train dozens of speakers,” Gutierrez said of Matthews.

The Save10 Campaign mobilizes volunteers who speak before companies and organizations encouraging their workers to take the Save10 pledge. It also employs a Facebook page to encourage saving.

Simmons Bank of Pine Bluff is the founding bank partner for the WFA’s Save10 initiative. As part of the campaign, Simmons has started a Save10 Youth Savings account with incentives to encourage early savings habbits.

The Save10 Campaign has a number of other corporate and civic sponsors, among them Arkansas Business Publishing Group, the city of Little Rock and Economics Arkansas.

“Conversations around money just aren’t normalized for women,” Matthews said. “We kind of know how much we want to make, but not how much we need to keep.” And this is exactly what the campaign seeks to address.

Ryder Buttry, 24, director of strategic programs and initiatives for the Women’s Foundation, has taken the Save10 pledge. She had been putting 7% of her salary in her 401(k), but upped her contribution.

“It was pretty easy,” Buttry said. “I think that’s the whole point of starting early, because the earlier you start the easier it is.”

And just as interest and returns on investment compound over time, Gutierrez and Matthews emphasize the compound, ripple effect they hope the campaign will have on women, their savings and their futures as more and more people share the message.

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