TRAVERSE CITY — The Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency is offering two new programs that give adults and children an added incentive to put away their money.
In two separate programs for income-eligible households and children, the agency initiates participants’ savings accounts by depositing the first amount of money.
The agency’s Nest Egg Savings program is a matched savings program that offers households incentives to build their emergency savings. It builds on the agency’s tax preparation program by offering $100 to households for every $300 they save on their tax returns.
“We always ask clients to voluntarily pledge to save at least $300 on their tax return, so we thought it would be great if we could match those savings,” said Tish Garthe-Shiner, Services Coordinator at financial management and public services at NMCAA. . “For some people, it’s the biggest amount of money they get all year.”
A flyer advertising the agency’s free tax services first attracted Shannon Wingfield to participate in the Nest Egg program. But her favorite part was enrolling her three-year-old daughter in the agency’s children’s savings program.
The program, called the “Early Bird Savings Club,” gives kids their first lesson in keeping a savings account, allowing them to open one of their own for school activities and supplies, Garthe- shine. Children will receive $50 in their account from the agency and an additional $10 from Chemical Bank.
“I wanted her to experience that because she’s three now, so she could finally start to understand,” Wingfield said. “I really think it’s important these days that kids learn early on how to save and how much things cost.”
The agency has 56 assigned accounts for its Early Bird Savings Club and 20 for its Nest Egg program. A household must have an income below 125% of the federal poverty level to be eligible, which is about $1,200 per month per person or $2,500 per month for a family of four.
A household member must also attend one of eight financial capability workshops offered by the NMCAA to receive the agency deposit. The workshops last less than two hours, Wingfield said, and cover topics such as money management and spending plans.
“The process was smooth and simple, they were really top notch,” Wingfield said. “It wasn’t long, which was refreshing.”
Households interested in either program can call 231-947-3780 or 800-632-7334 for more information or to determine eligibility.