Archive for Saturday, December 12, 2009

Savings program gives support to low-income clients

December 12, 2009

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— Sara Garcia doesn’t want to waitress for the rest of her life.

The young single mother of three girls wants more for herself, and more for her children. She wants a better paying job with more flexibility, and she wants to use her natural creativity in her work.

Garcia has the passion to make her dream of owning a photography business a reality. But there is one ingredient that she doesn’t have: Money.

With what Garcia makes, it is tough to pay the bills, much less save enough to buy the equipment she’d need to pursue her photography dream.

Through her enrollment in Interfaith Housing Service’s Individual Development Accounts program, Garcia has saved about 75 percent of the money she needs to get her photography business idea off the ground.

The program helps low- to moderate-income individuals establish goal-based savings accounts and matches clients’ deposits to the savings account two-to-one. The matching funds are made possible through Interfaith Housing’s sale of state tax credits and a federal grant.

Along with the matching funds, IDA clients receive eight hours of financial education classes.

“I’ve let my account sit for over a year without drawing from it,” Garcia said. “ … Some months all I could put in was the $20 minimum, and then when I get a little extra here and there I put that in, too.”

The IDA program can be used for any goal. While Garcia is using it for a photography business, Samantha Ridder, 20, is using it to save money for college.

Ridder, a Hutchinson Community College sophomore, learned about the program from her mom. “Right now, I have a scholarship, so I don’t have student loans,” she said.

Ridder’s goal is to save enough to pay for a semester or two at Kansas State University, where she plans to attend next year and major in mass communications.

Interfaith Housing Service has $400,000 in tax credits benefiting the Individual Development Accounts program available for purchase before they expire Jan. 1, 2010.

Those who purchase at least $250 in tax credits receive a 45 percent credit that can be applied toward their Kansas tax obligation or added to their refund.

Donors also can deduct a portion of their donation on their federal income taxes if they itemize charitable gifts.

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