Proving that Savings Can Start With Just $5

Ms. Wilkes’ daughter recently got her first job working at Wendy’s. Though she is not making a lot of money, Ms. Wilkes constantly reminds her daughter to dedicate a small portion of her pay to savings.

“Even if it is just $5, she will be happy to have that money when times get tough,” said Ms. Wilkes.

By instilling the value of savings, Ms. Wilkes hopes her daughter can one day achieve her dream of becoming a successful business owner.

The First Step Towards Child Savings

While attending an event at Urban Academy Charter School, Ms. Wilkes saw a bright green tablecloth advertising a new program called Fund My Future. She thought about her 16-year-old daughter going off to college in just a few short years, and she knew this was the perfect opportunity to help her daughter save for school. She scheduled to meet with Ms. Toni Corinealdi, the program manager, within the following week.

Ms. Wilkes completed the first step of the program by simply enrolling on the website, and then she was ready to open a bank account for her daughter. Since the program allows her to choose from a variety of local banks, she decided to use First Commonwealth Bank near her home in East Liberty.

Ms. Wilkes had been having trouble with her car, so she asked a friend for a ride to the bank. She provided all of the necessary paperwork to open the account, and she left the bank feeling excited about this opportunity to save for her child.

Shortly after, Ms. Wilkes met Toni at the local library to link her daughter’s account to the Fund My Future Portal. She eagerly sat down at the computer to access her account online. However, even after typing in her information several times, she could not sign on. They did everything they could to troubleshoot, but realized they could not solve the problem on their own.

Overcoming the Hurdles

Determined to overcome this barrier, Ms. Wilkes found another ride to the bank. When she arrived, a teller informed her that she needed an online ID in addition to her regular account number. The teller helped her access this information, and Ms. Wilkes was once again looking forward to making deposits.

Yet, just a few weeks later Ms. Wilkes ran into more trouble.

“They had closed the account and sent the check back in the mail because they said they needed my daughter’s signature on the paperwork,” said Ms. Wilkes.

Ms. Wilkes did not understand why her teenage daughter would need to sign the paperwork, so she called Toni for assistance. Toni graciously offered to coordinate a three-way call with First Commonwealth Bank. This discussion revealed that the teller who had requested the child’s signature and closed the account had been in error, and First Commonwealth was dedicated to correcting this mistake. With the help of this bank employee, Ms. Wilkes was directed back to the bank to open a new account.

Where Are They Now?

After three trips to the bank, Ms. Wilkes finally had a long-term savings account for her daughter’s future. She also has a Fund My Future account that gives her chances to win cash prizes every time she makes a deposit into her daughter’s account. She persevered through every obstacle because she believes in the importance of her daughter’s education, and she was willing to do anything to start saving.

While she may wish the process had been easier, she accepted the challenge and was never discouraged. “This was my experience and I made it work,” Ms. Wilkes explained.

She attributed much of her ability to overcome the barriers to the Fund My Future staff.

“Toni is dedicated and she will be there for you through any problems you might have,” said Ms. Wilkes. Toni is always excited to help parents like Ms. Wilkes who are passionate about saving for their child’s future.

“I believe that everyone can save, and by me believing in you, eventually you will believe in yourself. When we actually finalize the linking process, I can hear and sometimes feel the excitement in that person’s voice. It’s a beautiful feeling! I truly love helping folks accomplish goals in their life!” -Toni Corinealdi, Program Director

Ms. Wilkes’ daughter will soon graduate from high school. She has already begun her search for colleges, and she plans to pursue a degree in business so that she can operate a store related to one of her passions, fashion or cosmetology. Thanks to her mother’s emphasis on savings and the money she will accumulates in her Fund My Future account, Ms. Wilkes’ daughter will be prepared to take on whatever life might bring.