Lack of savings is the financial challenge American families worry about the most. In fact, one in three households nationwide have no savings. We heard this sentiment echoed again and again during community conversations that United Way of Western Connecticut held with hard-working households we call ALICE®(Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed).
Lucjan immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe and has spent the past 18 years working diligently to create a better life for himself and his family. He works two part-time jobs and makes under $28,000 per year before taxes. Lucjan takes pride in supporting his family and doing the best he can for them, but it is not easy.
“When you work hard, you can survive,” he says. “Living paycheck-to-paycheck without any savings is my norm because it is all I really know now. I can’t even afford to get sick because I don’t get paid for sick time and I need to provide for my family.”
United Way is changing the conversation for families struggling to save. United Ways across Connecticut teamed with California‐based nonprofit EARN to create ALICE Saves, a program to encourage Connecticut residents who are ALICE to begin a habit of saving and begin a journey to financial stability.
ALICE Saves combines SaverLife, a proven savings product from the EARN, and Trusted Advisor, a successful financial counseling program operated by the New York‐based Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners, to help program participants--"Savers"--build emergency savings and begin a journey to financial security.
In addition to potentially earning up to $60 in rewards, Savers who securely link their savings account to SaverLife will have access to other supports, including an opportunity to take an additional step towards financial security by enrolling in a technology‐enabled financial counseling program called Trusted Advisor. A Trusted Advisor counselor, available through Skype or by telephone, helps Savers develop a financial action plan with concrete steps to meet financial goals.
Lucjan signed up for the matched-savings program and began making regular deposits, learned how to use online banking, and established monthly savings goals for an emergency savings account.
“I make too much to get health insurance from the state, but not enough to afford it on my own,” he says. “Building up our emergency savings for unexpected expenses is another way I can make sure my family is taken care of.”