At the Dupaco Community Credit Union Sycamore branch in Dubuque, Iowa, on April 11, Delora Beal prepares to drive home her newly-acquired car. Beal's purchase was made possible through her systematic savings of $1,900 into an Individual Development Account (IDA), 12-months of financial coaching and an auto loan--all through Dupaco Community Credit Union. The Iowa Credit Union Foundation provided a $1-for-$1 matching grant. (D. Klavitter/Dupaco photo)
It's hard to imagine the freedom that a vehicle brings until you live without one for a long time.
Delora Beal knows that feeling first-hand.
After three years without a car, the 44-year-old Dubuque transplant is the proud owner of a white 2004 Dodge Intrepid. For Beal, who lives at the Manasseh House, a housing project for low- to medium-income women, the car represents an important step in getting her life back on track.
"It's pretty," she said excitedly of her new purchase.
Beal purchased the car through a savings program at Dupaco Community Credit Union.
In Dupaco's Individual Development Account (IDA) program, the savings of a participant are matched by a dollar-for-dollar grant from the Iowa Credit Union Foundation. Dupaco opens the savings account and provides financial coaching required by the program to help ensure the participant's goals are met.
On Monday--a year and two days after enrolling in the IDA program--Beal bought her car.
Saving $50 from every paycheck, she had accrued $1,900, with another $1,900 matched by the foundation.
"Delora took a serious effort into saving as much as she could to increase her match," said Dupaco's Cindy Hilkin, one of Beal's financial coaches. "She attributes her success to systematic savings. She plans on continuing this type of saving for her auto insurance."
Hilkin helped Beal find a solid vehicle and get an auto loan through Dupaco.
Beal credits Dupaco's financial coaching for her success. She says the experience has taught her some valuable life lessons.
"I've learned that it's a lot easier to save than what you think. You can still live and save money," she said. "It makes you reevaluate your spending habits. It makes you think about the importance of what you really need in your life."
Beal moved to Dubuque with her son and a friend three years ago. They packed what they could into a tiny car--some clothes, important paperwork and a computer--and said goodbye to Arizona and steady employment.
Beal eventually found temporary work in Dubuque, but she took a cut in pay. Today, she works at Hartig Drug. Her employer recently had a new position become available, but it required travel.
Beal hopes her vehicle will make her eligible for a promotion at work. Until now, she has relied on her two feet and a beat-up bike destined for the landfill.
"It's been a hard road to get to where I am to have a car," she said.
Beal has arrived. Two days after buying her car, she was getting the paperwork together to get an Iowa driver's license and license plates for her new ride. Even though she has met her goal in Dupaco's savings program, Beal says she will continue saving what she can from each paycheck.
"I'm looking ahead into the future, and I'm just hoping that having a way to get around will help me better my life. Just knowing I have a car is a whole different sense of relief," she said. "For the first time in I don't know how long, I'm just taking care of me."
Participants must meet income guidelines and be residents of or purchase assets in the state of Iowa to qualify for an IDA account. The savings and matching funds are then used by the individual to purchase a specific asset, such as a home, starting or expanding a small business, paying for education or job training, or purchasing a vehicle to get to work.
Dupaco has three other members enrolled in the IDA matching program and others on a waiting list once additional match funding becomes available. Credit union members interested in more information on an IDA may contact Dupaco's Member Services Department at email@example.com or (563) 557-7600 / 800-373-7600, ext. 206.
By Emily Kittle