Connecticut United Ways are partnering with a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization called EARN to bring a matched savings program to ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households in the State of Connecticut.
Three years ago, the United Ways across Connecticut released The ALICE Report, a statewide study of financial hardship conducted in partnership with Rutgers University. That report, and an update released in the fall of 2016, unveiled the ALICE population: individuals and families who are working hard, but have difficulty affording the basic necessities of housing, food, child care, health care, and transportation. Combined, ALICE and poverty households comprise 38% of all households in the state, revealing that more than 1 in 3 Connecticut households struggle to make ends meet.
Asset limited is a defining characteristic of ALICE. Thirty-nine percent of Connecticut households lack the liquid assets necessary to survive a financial shock. This vulnerability means that a medical emergency or unexpected car repair has the potential to cripple an ALICE household.
Savings is a core component of financial health. A savings habit – and the stability it brings – is as important as income. Savings address financial instability by providing a way for families to save for short term emergencies and long-term assets, like a college education or a home.
The EARN Starter Savings Program is a six-month matched savings program in which individuals earning no more than 80% of the median household income in their region agree to save at least $20 per month and in return earn $10 in matched savings. At the end of program, they will have built up at least $180 worth of emergency savings. EARN reports that 80% of graduates from the Starter Savings Program continue to save beyond the six months of the program.
“Together, United Ways across the State are working to address the challenges that ALICE households face by building partnerships and funding initiatives aimed at helping thousands of ALICE households achieve financial security,” said Richard Porth, President and CEO of United Way of Connecticut. “Connecticut United Ways invested more than $1.5 million in financial stability work that helps families in various ways including free tax preparation, managing their household budgets, building assets and repairing credit. This new partnership with EARN will help us further deliver on our commitment to support ALICE households.”
Built on a simple online platform, the EARN Starter Savings Program kickstarts a habit of saving. Offered in English, the 6-month program promotes positive financial behavior through an easy-to-use tool, backed by monetary incentives. It is the first step in developing financial stability.
Savers enroll in the program online or via their mobile phone, link their own savings account to EARN’s platform, set a personal savings goal, make deposits, and earn rewards. EARN’s online platform links to accounts at 15 financial institutions including Ally Financial, BB&T, BoA, BBVA, Capital One 360, Chase, Citibank, Navy Federal CU, PNC, Simple, Suntrust Bank, TD Bank, US Bank, USAA, and Wells Fargo.
Since 2001, EARN has helped thousands of people start saving. EARN’s mission is to help individuals and families reach greater prosperity by building lifelong savings habits and increasing financial capability. More than 80% of EARN’s Savers continue to save because they have the know-how and confidence to reach their savings goals.
To get started savings with EARN and for more information, visit www.earn.org/ctuw.