The Independent Community Bankers of America and Bank of Zachary are joining thousands of organizations to encourage Americans to take action during America Saves Week, which ends March 3.

"Community banks are trusted financial advisors," said group President and CEO Camden R. Fine. "Consumers should look to community banks as a resource for reaching their short- and long-term savings goals as they work toward building wealth and achieving financial stability."

The Bank of Zachary offers the following tips to help consumers boost their savings:

PAY YOURSELF FIRST: Many employers offer automatic payroll deduction, which is one of the best ways to start and keep saving.

CREATE A SPENDING PLAN: Unlike a strict budget, a spending plan is a guide to help you take better control of your finances by tracking where your money goes to help prioritize your spending.

START SMALL: Setting aside $2.75 a day, the average cup of a tall latte, for one year can garner $1,000 toward an unexpected car repair.

BUILD AN EMERGENCY FUND: Plan to save six to nine months of living expenses.

PUT YOUR TAX DOLLARS TO WORK: The recent tax bill expands 529 savings plans to include expenses for elementary and secondary education. The annual gift tax exclusion has increased as well.

It is also important to consider these factors in choosing where to place your savings:

ACCESS TO FUNDS: Community banks use the latest technology so that customers can access their money when and where they need it.

SAFETY OF FUNDS: The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. insures deposits up to $250,000 per depositor and $250,000 for certain retirement accounts. No one has ever lost a penny of FDIC-insured funds.

EARNING POTENTIAL: A community bank tailors customer service to its individual customers' needs and offers competitively priced products and services.

"It's never too late to develop good financial management habits," Mark Marionneaux, president of Bank of Zachary, said.

For information, visit www.bankofzachary.com or call (225) 654-2701.