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Since 2003, Financial Literacy Month is a nationally recognized campaign that aims to teach consumers how to establish and maintain healthy financial habits, such as saving and managing debt. And there’s no question as to why this month is important, considering a 2017 GoBankingRates survey found 67 percent of Americans between the ages of 18-24 years old have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts and 46 percent have zero savings.

This month, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation wants consumers, especially millennials, currently addicted to vape pens and e-cigarettes to take their own personal savings challenge and to get addicted to saving instead.

Data available from the state’s Department of Public Health suggests that nearly one quarter of Massachusetts high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days – a rate nine times higher than adults. Although these products cost, on average, less than cigarettes— the price per vaping device is around $20, with refills costing about $15 for a three to four pack—studies show that consumers spend anywhere from $50 dollars a month on these products to nearly $200 per month.
Tips for getting addicted to saving:

  • Set goals. Whether your financial goals are short-term, such as a spring break vacation, or long-term, such as buying your first car, it is important to start saving now. Evaluate your cash flow and decide how much you can save.
  • Look into the options your bank has for savings plans. Most experts suggest that by age 30, a person should have about one year’s salary saved. While this is likely not realistic for many young consumers, an easy first step could be to put a set amount, perhaps the amount you would have spent on vaping products per month, into a savings account.
  • Review your spending. Take a look at where your money has been going in recent months. Identify and understand your spending habits and spot any problem areas or unnecessary spending.
  • Download tools that can help with your budget. Some websites and apps offer free personal budgeting tools to keep track of your purchases and manage your money from a smartphone or tablet (such as Intuit’s “Mint” app or PocketGuard). There are even some apps, such as Albert, that will move money from your checking account into your savings automatically so you can save without even realizing it. Research your choices and find the one that works for you.

 

Smart spending habits are best learned at a young age and students and young consumers should carefully consider how they can put their hard earned money toward their financial goals. For more information on learning smart financial habits, visit https://www.usa.gov/flec.

For more information about the health risks of vape pens and e-cigarettes, visit the Department of Public Health’s website at www.mass.gov/dph.

The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s vehicular and customized wheelchair Lemon Laws and Arbitration Programs, Data Breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the MA Do Not Call Registry. If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer.

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