Asal, a CEI Individual Development Account (IDA) client, previously worked for an American company in Iraq. When his family was targeted, they lost everything they owned. They escaped to Egypt and from there, to the U.S. When IDA Program Coordinator Jill Lorom first met with Asal, he was cleaning rental cars at the Portland airport. He related that both he and his wife had degrees in microbiology from Iraq. His immediate priority was a need for reliable transportation so that he could get a better job.
“Asal saved diligently for 9 months,” said Jill. “He met with me for financial coaching to track his spending and develop a plan to maximize his savings. He also increased his credit score by over 100 points. When he had completed his savings and financial education requirements, we worked to identify a vehicle that would have monthly payments he could manage.”
Asal credits the financial coaching he received in helping him to create a spending plan and make deposits every month. Asal believes that although the matching funds were a big help, the advice he received while in the IDA program was invaluable. In January, Asal received a promotion at work and his wife enrolled at the University of Southern Maine.
Since 2007, CEI has supported clients in opening 275 IDAs for a combined savings and match of $769,557. IDAs are matched savings accounts that help people with modest means save funds towards the purchase of a lifelong asset, such as a home. The IDA program encourages participation by people with low incomes, including refugees and immigrants, in U.S. financial institutions by matching participants’ deposits. The IDA strategy is to promote asset accumulation and economic independence.
For every dollar saved in an IDA, participants receive a corresponding match which serves as an incentive to further savings. IDA savings and matching funds are used to purchase homes, start businesses, pay for education or professional degree recertification, or to purchase a vehicle. All IDA participants complete a 10-hour Basic Money Management in America course and meet one-on-one with a Financial Coach to work on their specific concerns.