More than 1,550 organizations across the United States and military-affiliated groups around the world are promoting personal savings and encouraging Americans to focus on their savings status this week as part of America Saves Week.

The Cottonwood Extension District, serving Barton and Ellis counties, is one of them. People hear many messages about spending, so it is critical to have times such as America Saves Week that focus on saving.

"The secret to saving successfully is surprisingly simple," said Madeline Daniels, spokesperson for America Saves. "People with a plan to save are twice as likely to save successfully. Whether you are saving for a rainy day, your retirement, education or another goal, America Saves Week is the perfect opportunity to set your savings goal, make a plan and learn how to save the most effective way automatically."

America Saves Week is coordinated by America Saves and the American Savings Education Council. Started in 2007, America Saves Week is an annual opportunity for organizations to promote good savings behavior. Participating groups include military installations; nonprofit organizations; banks and credit unions; academic institutions; local, state and federal government agencies; and employers.

Media messages and educational programs across the country this week will focus on themes such as:

• Save with a plan.

• Save the easy way, automatically.

• Save for rainy days.

• Save to retire.

• Save the extra.

• Save as a family.

Small steps in building a savings habit can make a big difference over time. During America Saves Week, national partners are encouraging people of all ages to develop and achieve their savings goals.

Here are two fun ways to focus on saving and have a chance to win prizes:

#ImSavingForSweepstakes

To celebrate America Saves Week, America Saves offers the #ImSavingForSweepstakes. It's easy to enter. Start by creating a savings plan and taking the America Saves Pledge (americasaves.org/for-savers/pledge) for a chance to win $500 toward your goal. Then boost your potential prize by an additional $250 by sharing your savings goal, story or tip on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. After pledging, you will receive an email to confirm your entry and instructions on how to enhance your entry by sharing on social media. The sweepstakes ends at midnight April 6. See the official rules at americasaves.org/imsavingforsweepstakes-official-rules.

Extension Index Card Contest

The university Extension service nationwide is celebrating America Saves Week with a chance to win one of three $100 Amazon gift cards by sharing your favorite savings strategies. It's easy, and you can enter up to six times. All you have to do is create and share an index card on Twitter or Facebook (use the hashtag #ASWSSIC) describing your favorite savings strategies and tips that fit the six themes of America Saves Week. You can create a graphic using the electronic index card image provided, or you can write your savings tip on an index card, snap a photo and share on social media. Get all the details at americasaves.org/extension-index-card-contest.

In a world that urges us to spend, spend, spend, America Saves Week focuses attention on saving instead. Take some time this week to set a saving goal, make a plan and pledge to save.

Linda K. Beech is Cottonwood District Extension agent for family and consumer sciences.