Middlesex United Way: ALICE Saves helps asset-limited families build nest egg

MIDDLETOWN — They say habits, either good or bad, can be formed in as little time as 30 days. At Middlesex United Way, we are excited for a new partnership that helps lower-income families develop savings habits that can last a lifetime.

Connecticut United Ways have joined together to promote financial stability for working families statewide, and, today, we are excited to help share this new program being held for the first time anywhere.

ALICE Saves is a new program designed to help families develop a lifelong habit of saving and other positive financial behaviors. The program is designed to encourage ALICE (Asset-Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) to begin their habit of saving by enrolling in two free, award-winning programs.

To be defined as ALICE, you must be asset-limited. According to the 2018 ALICE Report, a study of financial hardship within working families, United Ways found that 46 percent of Connecticut households do not have enough savings to cover expenses for three months. This means that an unexpected hospital trip or car repair can have the potential to devastate an ALICE household. Sadly, it is often these unexpected expenses that lead to further financial hardships for these families.

While 37 percent of state residents did not set aside any money for emergencies last year, research shows that families with a savings of just $250 are less likely to be evicted or miss a housing or utility payment. SaverLife, a proven savings product from the California-based nonprofit EARN, and Trusted Advisor, a successful financial counseling program operated by the New York-based Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners, will be available to help families build emergency savings and begin a journey to financial security.

ALICE Saves is open to all Connecticut residents over age 18 until the end of the year. In addition to Connecticut United Ways, it is funded by JPMorgan Chase and Webster Bank.

By joining SaverLife, participants receive financial rewards for consistent saving. Savers earn $10 for every month that they save at least $20, and have the potential to earn up to $60 in rewards at the end of the six-month program. Savers who securely link their savings account to SaverLife earn rewards, and have access to other supports as well.

Savers will also be offered an opportunity to take an additional step toward financial security by enrolling in Trusted Advisor, a technology-enabled financial counseling program. A Trusted Advisor counselor, available through Skype or by telephone, will help Savers develop a financial action plan with concrete steps to meet financial goals.

Middlesex United Way has invested in financial stability efforts that help families in numerous ways, including free tax preparation, job training, and employment support.

For more information or to register for ALICE Saves, please visit ctalicesaves.org or contact your local United Way.

Kevin Wilhelm is executive director and CEO of the Middlesex United Way in Middletown.