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The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is a non-profit organization founded in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, education and advocacy.

According to CFA's website, its members are approximately 300 consumer-oriented non-profits, which themselves have a combined membership of 50 million people. Members pay dues ranging from under $100 to $20,000 per year, elect the board of directors and vote on policies.

CFA has a wide range of activities and interests, many centered around favoring rigorous and skeptical scrutiny of businesses and their practices, products, and services by citizens, civic groups, the news media, and government regulatory agencies as a method of defending the interests of the public at large. It is generally regarded as liberal in the modern American sense of the term, and is one of many groups associated with Ralph Nader and his consumer movement. CFA is headquartered in Washington, DCmarker, with numerous state and local affiliates.

State consumer federations such as Consumer Federation of California also exist, advocating for similar rules and regulations but with a narrower geographic focus. Although many groups such as Consumer Federation of California are affiliated with CFA, they retain their autonomy. At the same time, their bylaws reflect a tendency to be united in purpose to in order to more significantly impact public policy.

Political Activity

CFA has been very active in lobbying the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to regulate the all-terrain vehicle industry during the 1980s, 1990s and into the 21st century. In the 1980s, the commission denied a request by CFA to ban ATVs, but ultimately entered into regulatory agreements with the ATV manufacturers that may have served to decrease the number of deaths and injuries associated with the product. In 2002, CFA was one of several organizations in a group that again petitioned CPSC to ban ATVs for use by children under the age of 16, citing the product's poor safety record and an again increasing number of deaths and injuries to children.

America Saves

America Saves is a campaign of the Consumer Federation of America (CFA). CFA is a Washington, DC-based non-profit that works to advance the rights of consumers through research, advocacy and education. America Saves is a nationwide campaign that encourages and assists individuals to save money, reduce spending, and "build wealth." The campaign is a social marketing effort that seeks to stimulate behavior change, similar to other social marketing efforts to reduce smoking, curtail drunk driving, and wearing seat belts.

About

Their two main advocated messages are "Save automatically" and "Save for an emergency fund".

Saving automatically, according to America Saves, makes it easier for a normal American citizen to build their wealth. Setting up an automatic transfer from a checking account to a savings account keeps the money out of sight and out of mind, one of the basic reasons given. By setting up one account, the individual will not have to worry about remembering to put aside money in the future. This allows an individual to not have to worry about remembering to save a set amount of money with every paycheck, and keeps the temptation to spend the money needlessly elsewhere to a minimum.

America Saves also campaigns for citizens to save for an emergency fund. By saving for an emergency fund, savers can prepare for unexpected financial emergencies. Having an emergency fund will protect individuals from becoming bankrupt when faced with challenges, such as medical emergencies, household repairs, or travel expenses. Having an adequate emergency fund gives individuals "peace of mind" and will help them avoid borrowing money for emergencies at high interest rates. Many other groups as well as individuals have advocated the usefulness of an emergency fund. Local newspaper articles and bloggers mention having an emergency fund in their debt reducing strategies.

Individuals are encouraged to enroll as 'Savers', by creating and committing to a basic savings plan. Savers are encouraged to open a no- or low-free savings account, and receive advice from America Saves to reach that goal

America Saves has 0ver 40 local Saves campaigns, such as TexasSaves, OhioSaves, Arizona Saves and UtahSaves.

Services

By enrolling in their local America Saves chapter, members are given access to the following free services, which vary according to the resources of the local campaign but may include:

  • Informational and motivational workshops with strategies on how to save and build wealth.
  • One-on-one consultation with a Wealth Building Coach.
  • Advice from a Certified Financial Counselor.
  • Seminars by financial experts on topics like credit scoring, debt repayment, home ownership, and retirement planning.
  • Subscription to America Saves e-newsletter and the e-Wealth Coach series.
  • Debt Avoidance Education
  • Access to savings products with no fees.
  • Access to America Saves Week site with financial guidance materials.


Accomplishments and Reception

America Saves organizes an annual "America Saves Week" where they encourage new individuals to join the campaign and existing members to assess their goals. During Saves Weeks, America Saves comes together with its partners (Federal Reserve Board, Cooperative Extension, Department of Defense, etc.) as well as its locally run campaign. These organizations work during the week to assist individuals to manage their existing funds, participate in informational workshops, and to create savings accounts. In 2008 over 75,000 attended events and over 25,000 enrolled as savers; in June 2009 America Saves reports a total of over 175,000 registered savers and is growing daily.

Military Saves campaign was developed and tested by Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and the military services from 2003 to 2006 and launched throughout the Department of Defensemarker (DoD) on February 25, 2007. While it is an ongoing local campaign, the entire military community comes together to focus on financial readiness during Military Saves Week, the last Sunday in February to the first Sunday in March. It has participated in every subsequent annual America Saves Week since its creation. Creating a supportive and helpful network of information is one of the goals of Military Saves. By keeping its members informed and knowledgeable, Military Personal can more easily save their money for future investments.

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