Insights > Power to Save Helps Families Build Financial Stability and Brighter Futures
Power to Save Helps Families Build Financial Stability and Brighter Futures
With support from Entergy Mississippi, a group of women in Jackson are working their way toward financial stability by discovering the Power to Save.
Launched last year in partnership with the Prosperity Center of Greater Jackson, the Power to Save program helps low-income working families build assets and achieve long-term goals such as homeownership, college degrees and retirement savings. For every dollar saved up to $500, a dollar-for-dollar match was made in each participant’s individual development account.
Entergy’s support for the Power to Save program is funded by shareholders.
Ebony Meeks had been living paycheck to paycheck when she signed up for the Power to Save program. Today, she has a growing savings account and an improved credit score — two goals she set for herself when she started attending monthly classes in September 2017.
Ebony Harris (left) and Rozetta Womack (right) were among the first group of participants who completed the Power to Save program at Prosperity Center of Greater Jackson.
“At first I thought, how am I going to save $500?” said Meeks, 34, who works for a fast-food restaurant in Madison and has two young children. “But when I put my mind to it, I realized it was a goal I could accomplish. I wish I would have learned about it a long time ago.”
Of the 26 women who enrolled in the year-long program, 20 saved at least $500, meaning 76 percent of completers were able to receive full matching funds. In total, they saved around $13,000 — a figure that ballooned to nearly $25,000 with program matches.
“Our data indicate that the average client who walks through our doors has only $15 in savings,” said Ellen Collins, director of the Prosperity Center. “Watching these women build a savings of $500 in just one year has been a feat to behold, and our staff are extremely proud of them.”
“We’re excited about the overwhelming success of the Power to Save program and the positive difference it’s making for participants and their families,” said Amy Reed, senior customer service specialist for Entergy Mississippi. “Savings and assets help low-income working families avoid financial crises caused by emergencies or unexpected changes in income. That means they can experience greater stability in their lives and plan for the future.”
The Power to Save program was designed to make attendance as convenient as possible for women and their families. Monthly sessions at the Prosperity Center took place from 6 to 7 p.m., after the end of the workday for most participants, and child care and snacks were provided.
Each session featured guest speakers who discussed a variety of topics related to money management, such as mortgages and homeownership, purchasing vehicles and filing income tax returns. Class members also exchanged saving tips and advice and encouraged one another to stay focused on their financial goals.
“I really liked the classes,” said Rozetta Womack, 36, who is employed as a certified nursing assistant for a senior-care service provider. “We learned there are different ways to save and participated in hands-on activities to show the purpose of saving. We also learned the difference between adjustable and fixed-rate mortgages, which was helpful for me.”
When she started the Power to Save program, Womack was preparing to buy a house but realized she needed to become more financially stable before taking on a mortgage. In recent years, her income had fluctuated while she worked and attended school, a combination that made it nearly impossible to save.
In addition to her CNA degree, Womack has an associate degree in culinary arts and eventually wants to become a certified dietary manager for a senior-care home. For now, she’s taking a break from school while she focuses on building her savings and paying off debt.
“It’s hard to save when you’re a single parent trying to do things all by yourself — working two jobs, going to school full-time and keeping the bills paid,” she said. “I also have a sickly child who has allergies and requires regular shots. I want to make a stable home for my son where he can grow up in one place. The Power to Save program showed the importance of putting a little bit back whenever possible, because a little bit adds up.”
Meeks also continues to apply the money-management skills she learned in the Power to Save program to improve her family’s financial outlook.
“Saving is harder than I thought because my kids are always needing things, and gas prices are going up,” she said. “In the Power to Save program, I learned about setting a goal and sticking with it. It was a big help for me, and I’ve continued to save since completing the program. It was an important life lesson that I can pass along to my kids.”
For more information, visit the Prosperity Center’s website