IDA accounts help achieve goalsJadah and Samuel Kerr made a down payment on a house in Beach, while Dr. Shawn Berger purchased a massage table for his chiropractic practice through a program offered by the Community Action Program in Dickinson.
By: Linda Sailer, The Dickinson Press
Jadah and Samuel Kerr made a down payment on a house in Beach, while Dr. Shawn Berger purchased a massage table for his chiropractic practice through a program offered by the Community Action Program in Dickinson.
Individual Development Accounts are matched savings accounts, intended for North Dakota residents interested in saving for homeownership, small business development or post-secondary education.
“The main focus of the program is to work with people to save in order to achieve a goal, like a home purchase, college education or small business,” program administrator Sandy Baer said.
Qualified participants save up to $2,000 in their IDA, which is matched at a rate of 2 to 1, allowing them to earn an additional $4,000 at the end of the savings period.
Participants are required to save for at least six months, although most save money over the course of two years, she said.
“We have had more than 200 people who have participated in the program and we continue to have funding available,” she said. “Our goal is to help individuals save and invest for the future.”
Berger, owner of Berger Family Chiropractic, took advantage of the IDA program after he purchased a chiropractic practice in Dickinson a year ago.
“Once it was explained to me, I thought it was a great idea,” Berger said. “I saved $2,000 over the course of six months and it was matched 2 to 1 for a total of $6,000.”
He applied the investment toward purchase of an intersegmental traction table. Using the table since November, he said patients love it.
“Not only does it provide massage, it stretches out the spine,” he said. “It makes patients more comfortable and relaxed prior to getting an adjustment.”
To qualify for the grant, Berger also completed a course in financial literacy.
“The homework took some time,” he said. “It’s geared more to people who have never saved before.”
Berger worked as a massage therapist for 17 years before receiving his chiropractic degree from Northwestern Health Sciences University-Bloomington, Minn. He graduated in November 2011.
Berger recommends the IDA program for other small business developments.
“It’s very easy to use and it’s a great program,” Berger said. “I think people should take advantage of it.”
The Kerrs closed on their house in Beach Oct. 25, moving from Dickinson. Samuel is site supervisor at the Chateau de Mores in Medora and they have two daughters.
“My brother told me about the program a while ago, and the more I looked into it, the more I realized this will work,” Jadah Kerr said.
The program took time, but it was easy to complete, she said.
“It was budgeting and financing and everybody should know how very important that is,” she added. “There was a section about buying a house — things I didn’t know before.”
The IDA program allowed the Kerrs to cover the closing costs and reduce the loan payments.
“As long as you have the will and determination to go through the program, you will be rewarded — you will save money,” Jadah Kerr said. “I recommend the program to everyone — it would be silly not to sign up for it.”
Baer said all assets must be purchased in North Dakota and deposits into the IDA must come from earned income, meaning the participant is employed.
“Many people tell me that this program sounds too good to be true,” she said. “There is no catch and nothing has to be paid back. Our goal is to help people in North Dakota achieve their investment goals.”
Baer said the income-based program was started in 2000, with Dickinson being one of the pilot sites. The program has several slots yet to be filled. It is funded with matching state and federal funds.
“We are applying to the state for additional funding and hope it continues,” she said.
For additional information about the program and eligibility requirements, call Baer at 701-227-0131. Additional information regarding the IDA program is available at www.capnd.org/ida.