Strategies to Gain & Sustain Assets

As people increase their income, enter the financial mainstream through relationships with financial institutions, build savings and reduce their debt, they will be better positioned to make choices about their financial well-being. These choices may include asset purchases such as a house or a vehicle, retirement and/or college savings, or the creation of a small business. This step offers strategies for individuals and families to achieve their asset goals and, once they have done so, to continue to build and sustain their assets in the long term.

Financial Education

Financial education provides information and skills that enable individuals and families to manage their financial resources wisely, create positive relationships with financial institutions, and make informed decisions regarding their personal finances. This strategy is critical to all of the steps in the financial stability framework; it is included here because completion of general financial education and asset-based training is a requirement for all IDA participants.

Individual Development Accounts (IDAs)

IDAs are matched savings accounts designed to help low- to moderate-income families accumulate savings for long-term assets such as a house, vehicle, or a small business, as well as post-secondary education. The match incentive is similar to an employer match for a 401(k) or other retirement savings plan and is provided by a variety of government and social sector sources. More than 500 IDA programs have been launched across the country, allowing more than 15,000 people to save and build assets.

Many local United Ways are engaged in IDA programs in their communities, often providing financial support and oversight to a collaborative of community-based organizations that administer the accounts.

Asset Protection

Asset protection is a series of tools and strategies to help individuals and families maintain their savings and assets in the event of an emergency, such as a change in marital or employment status, short term disability or illness. Asset protection tools and strategies include savings accounts; auto, renters’ and homeowners’ insurance as well as health and disability insurance; and public benefits, including unemployment assistance, Social Security disability insurance, Medicaid and food stamps.

United Ways are integrating information about asset protection strategies into financial education and asset-specific counseling programs.

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