nonprofits,local leaders & Grt.New Haven business sharing information
$1.5 billion a year is spent in the USA on check cashing fees, according to the Brookings Institute. The FDIC estimates that families without bank accounts - the unbanked or underbanked - spend between 3% and 5% of their income on cash-based financial services. Since most government benefits are now made electronically through direct deposit, most of the checks being cashed are paychecks. Many folks go to the check casher because they believe they do not have enough money for a bank account, or they have been denied a bank account, or they are confused on how to open a bank account and avoid high fees. So can a small community bank with two branches and 20 employees make a difference? We think so.
At the end of June we unveiled our "FeeKeeper" Program. Non-customers can bring a qualified check to START, pay the same fee that would be collected at the check cashing store, but then something extraordinary happens. We take that fee, turn it into a bonus deposit, and put it in a club savings account. No withdrawal is allowed for 90 days; and if our feekeeper can hang in there for 180 days without making a withdrawal we'll add a 10% bonus match of the balance up to a maximum of $50.
Remember the days when you brought your quarters to school and watched your balance grow? Or brought your passbook to the bank and watched the teller add in the interest? We are hoping to develop that same habit of saving with this program.
$1.5 billion. How many down-payments-on-a-house is that? How many reliable-car-get-me-to-work payments is that? How many tuition payments is that?
So help us spread the word to the non-profit community and to your clients who might benefit from this program. Make sure they know there is a way to START. Don't let those fees go down the drain, let them rise like the tide and create a pool of savings!