Aysun Acar, from the Brotherhood’s Saver Plus program, writes about her experiences as a Saver Plus participant and worker25 July 2012
In 2005, my eldest of three children started year eight and my second child was starting year seven. I suddenly had two kids in high school and realised I needed to save. A part-time administration role was available at Saver Plus so I applied and got the job. While I was receiving a small income, I wasn’t sure about how to save my money or about budgeting. So I enquired about the Saver Plus program and was eligible to join.
I was a participant for ten months. Back then the goal was to save $1000 (now it’s $500) and ANZ would match it, so I had to save $100 a month. I set up a direct debit account with ANZ and this was really helpful. You weren’t allowed to touch the money, unless it was an emergency. Each month my balance continued to increase – and it was such an accomplishment!
The Money Minded workshops as part of the program were particularly useful. We identified our ‘needs’ from our ‘wants’ and realised the sacrifices that had to be made. We had to make sacrifices as a family, but I learnt the things that were important and began to prioritise. After I finished the program I continued to save. I’m still saving now and it’s for a house. Once you learn how to budget, anything is possible.
I became a Saver Plus Worker in 2006 and currently look after 65 families. I support these Saver Plus participants with budgeting and savings tips and monitor whether they’re saving. If they miss a month’s payments I follow them up and say 'Are you ok?' and 'How can I help?'. I tell them that I have three kids and that I was part of the program and it makes them realise if I can do it, so can they.
I remember one participant, she was a gambler. She saw the brochure and came to us. I told her that Saver Plus is very strict; if participants pull out it’s got to be for an emergency. I enabled this lady to open an account and told her she couldn’t touch the money. Because of this, she stopped gambling! It was fantastic. She had two teenage kids, she was a single parent doing it tough and she completed the program. She continuously thanked me but I said to her 'You did it all the work, not me. You should be proud of yourself'. Hearing things like this is rewarding.
I love this job, I’m not sick of it yet. I mean the monitoring and the sign ups are all the same, but the actual people are different. Part of my role is running the Money Minded workshops, I’ve done this for years now, but they’re never the same. I’m talking about the same topic but the conversations are always different. And that’s what drives me.
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