Archive | Savings

Earl

Growing up and Getting Started

No Matter What. That is what the bracelet on Earl’s wrist reads.  Earl has been sober for 15 months and counting but his memories are fresh from when that was not the case. Earl has been meeting with his Advocate Steven in the Chapel Hill office, pursuing savings and securing employment alongside a 12-step recovery program.

Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Earl grew up in a large family. “My mother and father had 12 kids, my father was a hardworking man… I’ve seen a lot of things in a young stage that’ve helped me become the person I am today…There was a lot of love,” shares Earl, but “I grew up in an unstable home.” Earl recalls how certain things shaped his relationship with finances. Where I’m from it wasn’t just about savings, it was about trying to survive… my father never had a bank account, never wrote checks so my mother didn’t either.

When Earl first came to CEF in March of 2016, he was skeptical. “You know, I wasn’t sure about what, you know, I could get from CEF. But I found a lot of students from UNC—they really care about the community. They volunteer their work. I know that when people volunteer their work, they’re here for a purpose… I remember my first day at orientation, it started right then and there. There was so much that they offered me to do. They put the guidelines for what I can and can’t do but it was up to me as an individual to follow those guidelines. It was like being in school, if you don’t do the assignment, what’s the good of being in class.

Finding Work and Financial Stability

At CEF, his consistent Advocate meetings manifested into a successful job search where Earl secured full-time employment at the Carolina Ale House. “The job search it was an experience, most of the jobs I had were daily paid labor. I understood I didn’t want that type of job anymore”.  Although the restaurant recently closed, he feels more prepared now for the job search than he did before. “We’re not finished yet. We’re looking for a job. But now I know how to approach it. He’s (Steven’s) already setting the guidelines for me, he’s already helping me prepare for tomorrow… That’s what I learned from CEF. Preparing myself for the future.”

Earl also spends his meetings with Steven working on finances, which includes disputing debts and created payment and budget plans. By making consistent savings deposits, Earl has saved just shy of $4,000. “I came by Tuesday and put $500 in my savings because I know it’s the right thing to do. I love the idea, I really do, of having a savings account.” Earl also opened a bank account at Coastal Federal Credit Union to build even more savings and have access to a checking account! Now, I go to a bank and they know my name. ‘Hey Earl, how you doing Earl?’  Even when I’m not there to cash a check I still go in there, talk my banker, talk about ball, talk about how my life is going.” Earl told us that his banker even offered to be a reference for prospective employers, “she sees something in me that I didn’t see when I first started to open my bank account.”

It’s About Relationships and Family

Earl is paired with Steven but that does not stop him from building connections with other CEF Advocates. “I gave a couple of advocates some names like ‘Sarah Salad,’ ‘Sarah Hotdog,’ ‘Chocolate Ice Cream’, you know, because that’s the kind of bond I built with them.”

Earl with CEF Advocates at the Financial Independence Day celebration

Earl only has words of praise for Steven. “It’s all about the relationship that I built with Steven has helped me focus on things in life that I know I am able to achieve…he always has great things to share with me. He always gives me that positive motivation.” More than anything, Earl believes the key to success is partnership. “I don’t want a handout. Just give me a hand… Show me, guide me, pull me along the way.  Just give me that, “you can do it.” That is the hand I need.”

So what exactly is Earl saving for? Family. “I have 3 sons, 3 grandsons and we have never all been together at one time…We’ve never been together. Every day I get a little older. We’ll get together and play a game of basketball…That’s one of the reasons I’m trying to save some money too. One day man, one father’s day man, there’ll be that love, that unity.”

Earl and his Advocate Steven in the Chapel Hill office

 

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Annual Report 2016 : Transformative Community

“We share these stories, and are reminded just how profound it is to be a part CEF. We share them with gratitude for the whole wide CEF family—Members, Advocates, supporters, and friends. Thank you for reading, writing, and living this story with us!”

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CEF’s TED Talk: Homeless, and Outsaving Half of the United States

Presented at the 2017 TEDxUNC event at Memorial Hall: CEF’s Co-Founders / Co-Directors sharing the transformative story of a group of college students and shelter residents who built a community organization and financial tools that support sustained transitions out of homelessness. The CEF Advocacy Choir sings to close out the talk, with an original song about the joy of finding a home after experiencing homelessness.

photographs by TEDxUNC

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Using Behavioral Economics to Explore the Transition to Housing

Thank you to the over 70 participants from partner agencies that attended the workshop CEF co-hosted with the Common Cents Lab focused on “Using Behavioral Economics to Explore the Transition to Housing.”

Together, we brainstormed about how behavioral economics might help nonprofits think creatively about building better programs and smarter solutions to support individuals moving out of homelessness. The incredible team at the Common Cents Lab shared an introduction to the principles of behavioral economics, and led the group through an interactive workshop to put those principles into action for better program design.

Behavioral economics is “the study of how people really make choices–not in a simplified economic model, but in the textured and rich reality of daily life, and draws on insight from both psychology and economics” (CFED).

CEF is working with the Common Cent Labs this year to apply these learnings to our partnerships with shelters to promote increased engagement with CEF’s matched savings accounts in a way that supports Members in achieving short-term savings goals and builds longer-term saving habits. Through our last joint project with the team, we implemented a new way for Members to track progress towards their savings goals through a punchcard and tested its efficacy through a randomized control trial. Every time Members in the trial group made a deposit, they received a punch, and received gold tokens and new levels of punchcards after each card was filled. An article is soon to be published by the research documenting the promising results of this study… Just for a preview: “Members who received the punchcard to track their deposits completed 30% more of their goal than members who were in the control condition” (Guzman and Tepper, full article to be published late spring 2017).

Indiana received the very first punch on a CEF Savings Card! This piggy- themed punch card developed with Common Cents Lab, tracks each deposit and captures progress towards her goals!

We are excited to continue learning throughout this year with the team at the Common Cents Lab! Since the workshop, partners have shared that they are still really thinking about how behavioral economic analysis such as “tunneling” or “friction costs” can be addressed in their own work. Building on the incredible momentum of bringing 70 of our partners into the room together to explore these concepts, we got feedback from participants on where to go from here in our collaborative learning, and will be exploring other topics in the months to come — such as “Manage Cash Flow after Housing Transitions,” and “Overcome Barriers to Banking.

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