Saving money has long been a popular New Year's resolution, but as so many know in this day and age, it is easier said than done.

With the bleak financial outlook many Americans are facing, saving money has been replaced with paying for necessities. Nevertheless, the goal to save money is alive and well, even if the reality of succeeding is lessening by the day.

Experts say that there are simple ways for those interested to utilize saving programs from local banks in order to better a financial situation.

Lorraine Brown, Assistant Vice President and Office Manager at First Citizens Community Bank in Towanda, explained that while saving money may be a popular resolution, she has seen no increase in interest toward savings from locals.

"People can't afford to put money away," Brown said. "When people do come in with large checks such as royalties, we do give suggestions. We always recommend paying yourself first, then paying your bills, and then looking towards spending some of the money."

Brown explained that the bank does offer competitive savings accounts and mentioned that most other banks in the area offer similar accounts. The bank has a savings account for student savers under the age of 18 that has no minimum balance and is free to open.

As kids continue to save money, Brown said the bank looks at beginning small, safe investments such as certificates of deposit or creating individual retirement accounts.

Brown believes that saving is a learned behavior.

"The sooner a child starts saving the better," she said. "That is why we offer savings accounts that have no service charge for those under 18. We recommend starting young by putting half of birthday money, for example, into a savings account. This way it becomes a habit and allows the child to see how their money grows with us."

In addition to the student savers, the bank also offers savings accounts to adults with a low minimum balance requirement of $200.

A notable saving program offered by multinational banking corporation Bank of America allows customers to have a digital piggy bank, so to speak. If enrolled in the "Keep the Change" program, each purchase made on a Bank of America debit or credit card is rounded up to the nearest dollar. The extra pennies charged are automatically deposited into a savings account.

This type of digital savings program allows customers to save without having to make a conscious decision towards stowing the money. With the "Keep the Change" program, Bank of America agrees to match the amount saved in the first three months, up to $250.

While it may seem harder to save money in the current financial atmosphere, there are programs out there designed to help the average person save money.

For more information on saving money or opening a savings account, contact the financial institution or bank of your choice.

Tim Zyla can be reached by email at