Meet Alaina: Just out of college and working her first job in Washington, Alaina was living paycheck to paycheck. With over half her income going to rent, she thought, "How am I supposed to save?" But when she heard about EARN, it was the "wake-up call" that got her started. Now she's a confident saver whose savings give her greater peace of mind.
When Alaina first heard about EARN through United Way, she was barely making ends meet. Saving seemed like "something that people who were financially stable were able to do." EARN's low monthly minimum of $20 was doable, she says, especially because she knew she'd get money at the end.
While saving with EARN, Alaina learned to make small sacrifices that, when put together, gave her a financial safety net. She noticed she was worrying less about making ends meet every month. "Living paycheck to paycheck," she says, "takes a huge toll on your body and your life. When you're not worrying about where your food, water, and shelter are coming from, you can focus on learning about yourself and spending time with people."
In retrospect, Alaina says she wishes she'd started saving earlier. Saving had turned into "this huge beast in my mind," and she'd developed an all-or-nothing mentality. She used to think to herself, "If I can't save $50 or $100 a month, what's the point?" But now that she's actually started saving, she knows that even putting a little bit of money away makes a big difference. Saving can be "just taking the change out of your wallet and putting it in a jar."
When she recently moved on to a higher-paying position, she knew she could continue to save because she'd managed with so much less. The money Alaina was able to put away with EARN helped her build an emergency fund so that she was more financially secure, and, just as vitally, helped her develop a habit of saving.