Matched savings program helps low-income families succeed financially
Every day in Utah, low and moderate income families are reaching their goals of self-sufficiency by participating in Fair Credit Foundation's Utah IDA Network. The program is a multi-faceted financial education program designed to provide low-income Utah individuals and families with the opportunity, incentive, and institutional support necessary for them to save for and acquire productive assets that promise higher income, new wealth and long-term self sufficiency.
Through matched savings accounts, known as Individual Development Accounts or IDAs, low-wage workers put aside a portion of their monthly income and participate in ongoing, required financial management training. For every dollar a participant saves, up to $1,500, the Utah IDA Network pays $3.
This means that those who complete the program can walk away with as much as $6,000 to use toward the purchase of one of four qualifying productive assets: a first home, college or vocational education, starting or growing a small business, or a work related assistive technology.
Jordan has a degree in mechanical engineer and he talked about how a lot of his friends and that they were taking easy majors in college without thinking about the ROI. He purchased a small 1951 2 bedroom 1 Â¾ bathroom houseÂ in Helper with a garage that sits on .89 acre of land. He took the classes in Price from Ellen Serfustini when he was doing an internship and was able to save for his down payment.
"Our work is based on the principles of responsible financial management. We reduce poverty by bringing basic economic understanding and skills to those who have little or no experience managing their limited assets," said Martha Wunderli, UIDAN State Director.
With support from United Way of Eastern Utah and other community partners including USU Extension, BEARS, Wabi Sabi, Southeastern Utah Community Development Corporation, Green River Epicenter, San Juan County Economic and Tourism Board, and local Small Business Development Centers, Fair Credit Foundation has been able to expand the program into Carbon, Emery, Grand, San Juan, Uintah, Daggett, and Duchesne counties. Twenty-six 26 families from Eastern Utah have participated in the program to date, program graduates have purchased 4 homes, started or capitalized 10 small businesses, and 7 educations purchases.
"It's truly amazing to see what people can accomplish when given the right supports," said Preston Cochrane, President and CEO of AAA Fair Credit Foundation. "Our IDA Savers consistently save at higher levels, in both percentage of income and frequency, than the national average. This has remained true even when our nation's economy as a whole has declined."
To learn more about the Utah IDA Network, find out if you qualify, and get connected with free financial workshops being offered in Eastern Utah, visit www.uidan.org or call 877-787-0727.
About Fair Credit Foundation
Fair Credit Foundation is an award-winning, nonprofit financial counseling agency that provides a variety of services designed to assist and educate the public in developing sound money management strategies for building secure financial futures. Services include the Utah IDA Network, free credit and debt counseling, debt relief programs, financial education resources, foreclosure prevention counseling, credit report coaching, identity theft assistance and budget planning assistance. For more information, visit www.faircredit.org or call 800-351-4195.