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More Workers Get Help in Building Rainy Day Savings

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“The hard part in changing behavior is reducing the friction,” said George Barany, director of America Saves, a campaign of the Consumer Federation of America. “The easier it is to start to save, the better.”

Workplace savings programs vary in their approach. Some employers, like UPS, let workers contribute after-tax money into a savings account as part of their 401(k) retirement plan. UPS’s program, developed with Commonwealth and managed by Voya Financial, is available to the company’s 90,000 nonunion employees in the United States. UPS declined to discuss details of the program.

In a statement announcing the program last month, B.J. Dorfman, UPS’s director of global retirement strategy, said, “We value our workers and understand that their financial security is an important element of their success in the workplace and our success as a company.”

Other programs work as stand-alone options. For instance, a program from SaverLife, a financial technology nonprofit group, offers employees at Alorica, a global customer service provider, a $20 sign-up bonus and then matches employee contributions up to $40 a month. So a worker who saves $240 over six months will end up with a balance of $500. The employee must save at least $10 a month to get the match.

Participants link the SaverLife program to their own savings account and choose how much they want to save, said Letisha Lamb, director of employee experience at Alorica. The program encourages seasonal goals, like saving refunds during tax time or saving for gifts during the holidays.

Becky Dillon, 30, a customer service representative at Alorica, said that she had struggled to save, but that SaverLife helped get her in the habit. “I realized I needed to save money,” she said, so she cut out fast food meals and saved the money instead.

Ms. Dillon said she liked that SaverLife let her choose the amount to save — typically, $50 a month — and that there was no penalty if she had to skip a month. Before the pandemic hit, she had saved more than $300. The funds helped cover extra expenses that cropped up during the shutdown, like the cost of faster internet service so that her 9-year-old daughter could take classes at home.

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