MIDDLETOWN — As the vaccine roll-out continues and things start to get back to normal, a lot of us are still greatly impacted, not only by the medical impact of the pandemic, but the financial one, too. Fortunately, the Middlesex United Way has invested in financial stability efforts for years that help families in numerous ways, including free tax preparation, job training and employment support.
Connecticut United Ways have joined together to promote financial stability for working families statewide. ALICE Saves is a program designed to help families develop a lifelong habit of saving and other positive financial behaviors. The program is designed to encourage Asset-Limited, Income Constrained, Employed people 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 2020 updated ALICE Report, a study of financial hardship within working families, the report concludes that before the onset of the pandemic, 38 percent of Connecticut’s households lacked the income to pay for necessities, such as housing, food, child care, health care, technology and transportation. It goes without saying that this pandemic has certainly not made things any easier.
In Middlesex County, 14,778 households fall under the ALICE criteria, approximately 25 percent of all Middlesex County households.
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. New participants of ALICE Saves have access to a quarterly savings match. Save $60 a quarter, and earn $20 for up to $80 in match rewards during your first year of saving. Just by signing up, you can earn a $25 gift card, and savers who save $200 in any quarter are given a chance to win up to $1,000.
New and existing users can participate in the quarterly Race to 200 Challenge. Save $200 during any quarter, and you have a chance to win one of five $200 prizes or a $1,000 grand prize.
To sign up, all you need is an email address, a personal bank account, PayPal account, or prepaid debit card and online credentials to link an account (user name and password). Your financial information is kept confidential, and ALICE Saves does not store your credential or collect sensitive information, such as your social security number or address.
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.
For information, please visit ctalicesaves.org or contact our office at 860-346-8695.
Kevin Wilhelm is president and CEO of the Middlesex United Way in Middletown.