To help you manage your money and reach your saving goals:
Create a Budget
A budget is your plan for how you will spend money over a set period of time. Consumer.gov offers more information about what to include, along with a spreadsheet that you can use to create your own budget.
Look for Best Prices
Saving money involves looking for deals and buying the items you need at the best price, using coupons or by shopping around. Check out MyMoney.gov's spending tips for ideas. You can also set up a saving plan to help you save for emergencies and for short term and long term goals. MyMoney.gov offers tips on saving, including helping you achieve your saving goals.
Invest in Long Term Goals
Crowdfunding is a way for companies, entrepreneurs, artists, or individuals to raise money to complete a project or pay for a serious medical need or disaster recovery. After setting a fundraising goal and deadline to reach that goal, the creator markets the campaign to potential backers, or investors. While fundraising websites may conduct a background check on the company or cause, you should still do your own research before contributing:
- Research the company, artist, or cause - Is there any independent information available about the product, service, or situation they need help funding? Are there complaints related to the company or campaign creator online or with their state attorney general about fraud?
- Type of campaign - Is the campaign an “all or nothing” or “flexible funding”? If it's an “all or nothing” campaign, the creator only gets the money that has been pledged if they reach their fundraising goal. If the campaign is a “flexible funding” campaign, the creator will receive all the donations, even if they did not reach the fundraising goal.
- Timing of payments - Does the fundraising website charge your credit card immediately after you pledge your support or wait until the funding deadline or goal is reached?
- Additional fees - Does the fundraising website charge backers additional credit card processing fees?
- Rewards - What rewards, or returns, will you receive in exchange for your investment? Do you get to pre-order the product that the company is producing? Are there different rewards, based on how much you invest?
- Ownership control - If you invest, do you have an ownership stake or any control in the project?
- Refunds - Are you able to get a refund if the campaign does not reach its fundraising goal or if the project isn't completed? If so, do you need to get the refund from the website or directly from the campaign creator?
A pyramid scheme, also known as Ponzi scheme, is an illegal form of multilevel marketing. In these programs, your ability to earn profits is based on the number of new participants you recruit, instead of the amount of products or services you sell. Sometimes there actually aren't any real products that are being sold. These types of schemes are common with investment and independent direct selling opportunities.
These schemes rely on the income from new participants in order to pay fake "profits" to people that have been part of the scheme for longer amounts of time. However, the scheme falls apart when there aren't enough new recruits to pay into the system, so the earlier participants no longer receive earnings.
Tips to Avoid Being a Victim
You can take steps to prevent yourself from getting involved in a pyramid scheme:
- Be wary of "opportunities" to invest your money in franchises or investments that require you to bring in more investors to increase your profit, or recoup your initial investment.
- Independently verify the legitimacy of any franchise or investment with the Bettter Business Bureau, your state Attorney General, or any licensing agencies.
- Be skeptical of success stories and testimonials of fantastic earnings.
File a Complaint
If you've been the victim of a pyramid scheme, contact your state consumer protection office, state Attorney General, or the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to file a complaint. If the pyramid scheme involved securities, you should also file a complaint with your state's securities administrator, or the Securities and Exchange Commission.
U.S. savings bonds are one of the safest types of investments because they are endorsed by the federal government and, therefore, are virtually risk free.
Visit the U.S. Department of the Treasury's website, TreasuryDirect, to learn about savings bonds, treasury bonds, and securities: how to buy and redeem your investments, what to do in the event of the death of an owner, and much more. TreasuryDirect is your one stop shopping site for government securities where you can find information about the wide range of savings options, including EE/E, HH/H, and I savings bonds.
Manage and determine the value of savings bonds using these tools:
Treasury securities are debts issued by the federal government's Bureau of Fiscal Service. When you buy a treasury security, you are lending money to the federal government for a set amount of time. In return the government promises to pay you back the entire amount, also known as the face value, when the security matures.
There are several types of treasury securities:
- Treasury Bills—Short term securities that mature between a few days and 52 weeks.
- Treasury Notes—Medium term securities that mature between one and 10 years.
- Treasury Bonds—Long term securities, with a 30 year term that pays interest every six months, until the bond matures.
- Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS)—Securities with principle values that adjust based on inflation, but with fixed interest rates for five, 10, or 30 year maturities.
- Savings Bonds—Securities that offer a fixed interest rate over a fixed period of time.
- Floating Rate Notes (FRNs)—Securities with variable interest rates, so that as bank interest rates increase or decrease, the interest rates on the FRNs change in the same direction.
You can purchase treasury securities for yourself or as gifts. You can purchase them in several ways:
- Banks, brokers, and other financial institutions through the Commercial Book-Entry System.
- Online through Treasury Direct
- Payroll savings plans
- Public auctions