Matched savings program helps people save

People in the Gosford area have managed to save $108,065.45 since 2006 using a matched savings program and the Smith Family is looking for new participants.

Since 2006, more than 600 people across the Central Coast have benefi ted from Saver Plus, a matched savings and financial literacy program.

Saver Plus was developed by ANZ and the Brotherhood of St Laurence in 2002, and is delivered in partnership with The Smith Family and other community agencies.

The program is funded by ANZ and the Australian Government Department of Social Services, with ANZ providing matched savings for participants.

Lisarow mother of three children, Samantha said: “Whilst I study full-time, we rely on my husband’s income only and Christmas time is usually very difficult for us financially.

“The Saver Plus program made last Christmas much easier for us as we were able to use some of the money we had saved each week to cover the costs of presents for our three boys.

“We were able to use the matched funds to cover the costs of school supplies.”

Heather from Wyoming said: “I actually learnt a lot about myself and my saving habits and how the little things can add up to big things.

“One of the big things that I learnt was from another person in the workshop who explained that they empty their purse out of loose change and save it for a rainy day,” she said.

Following the Australian Government’s recent commitment of $29.4 million to the Saver Plus program, together with an additional $17.5 million from ANZ, Saver Plus seeks to reach a further 16,000 Australians over the next five years.

The program has reopened recruitment on the Central Coast and The Smith Family is looking for new participants. Saver Plus assists people on lower incomes to strengthen their financial skills and develop a longterm savings habit.

As an incentive to save, participants receive up to $500 in matched savings from ANZ when they complete the program, which can be used for educational items.

“Now that we’re recruiting again, Saver Plus will continue to make a positive difference by building participants’ money management skills,” said Mr Geoff Hynd, Saver Plus coordinator from The Smith Family.

“Saver Plus builds people’s money management skills and confidence with simple tools including budgets and spending diaries.

“I’ve seen the program change people’s attitudes towards money and in many cases change their lives,” Mr Hynd said.

“Since the program began, participants on the Central Coast have saved well over $400 and have used their matched savings to help pay for educational costs such as computers and tablets, text books, sports equipment, music lessons, and uniforms.”

The latest research by RMIT University found that the benefits of Saver Plus often reach beyond the participants themselves, with 84 per cent of those taking part encouraging family members, including children, to save.

They also report significantly increased wellbeing outcomes and an ability to control their finances and reduce debt.

To be eligible to join Saver Plus participants need to: be at least 18 years old; hold a Health Care or Pensioner Concession card; have some form of regular income from work; and be a parent or guardian of a child at school, or attend vocational education themselves.

Media release,
Aug 31, 2015
Geoff Hynd, The Smith