MoneyMatch program guides members to financial stability and homeownership.
Tired of renting, Ryan Bubenyak and Heather Staton dreamed of buying a home they could call their own.
But homeownership was always out of reach.
“We were saving as much as we could, but it wasn’t enough,” Bubenyak says.
When the couple joined Dupaco Community Credit Union, they learned an encouraging lesson: Homeownership was possible.
With the help of their credit union and its unique MoneyMatch program, the couple learned how to budget and save—and, eventually, realized their dream of homeownership. The program combines long-term financial coaching with matching funds, empowering participants to better their financial lives.
“Honestly, without MoneyMatch, we probably wouldn’t have been able to buy a house yet,” Bubenyak says.
How the Program Works
MoneyMatch—Dupaco Community CU’s name for an individual development account—is a special savings account and educational program designed for lower-income individuals and families.
The goal: Help participants achieve financial stability and save for a wealth-building asset, such as a home, vehicle, education or small business.
The program is the result of a partnership between the credit union and the Dupaco R.W. Hoefer Foundation.
Credit union staff work with eligible participants for at least six months. Dupaco Community CU coaches provide financial education, helping participants develop saving habits and prepare for their purchase. The credit union’s Foundation then matches the savers’ efforts with a dollar-for-dollar grant of up to $2,000 or $4,000, depending on the asset.
“We want time to work with participants on any financial areas where they may need to improve. We’d like them to be in a good position when they’re ready to buy their home or start their business,” says Michelle Becwar, Dupaco’s partnership development supervisor, a CUES member.
For MoneyMatch participants Bubenyak and Staton, financial education first focused on creating a budget.
Dupaco Community CU Mortgage Loan Consultant Erin Douglass helped the couple brush up on bill management using tools like the credit union’s You-Name-It Savings accounts. They used the accounts to automatically and systematically set aside money for their recurring expenses and saving goals. Automatic payments helped them pay their bills on time.
Bubenyak and Staton then began saving for their down payment, setting aside a predetermined amount from every paycheck to fund their MoneyMatch account. After two years of saving—and receiving matching funds from the Foundation—they bought a house in Cedar Rapids in September 2019.
“We were never in a position to even come close to buying a house before,” Bubenyak said. “To buy a house two years after moving to Cedar Rapids is unbelievable.”
The program is an extension of Dupaco Community CU’s mission, with the Foundation turbocharging those efforts, Becwar says.
“Helping people acquire wealth-building assets aligns with our mission of empowering people to achieve economic and social well-being,” she says. “This partnership allows us to provide even more opportunities to underrepresented groups so they can improve their financial situations.”
It’s people helping people.
Dupaco Community CU first started offering IDAs about 10 years ago. Initially, the credit union worked with another foundation that provided funding for the matched savings.
During that time, the CU had also created its Foundation.
“When funding from the original foundation ended, we were fortunate to have the Dupaco R.W. Hoefer Foundation to support our own IDA,” Becwar says.
Training Credit Union Staff
Dupaco Community CU believes that when people know better, they do better. So the credit union has a comprehensive internal training program to help staff empower members.
The CU’s employees learn about products and services. But more importantly, they’re trained to engage with members and actively listen to uncover their needs and develop a plan based on their situations. Staff provides this financial education and counseling to members every day.
Dupaco Community CU’s free Money Makeovers help members find ways to pay less and save more. And the credit union’s free Credit History Lessons teach members how to understand and grow their credit scores to gain access to lower interest rates. The MoneyMatch program is just one more tool employees can use to help members, with no additional cost to the credit union.
The most challenging aspect of MoneyMatch is finding members at the right time in their journey, Becwar says.
“People need to already have a goal of buying a home or starting a business and be ready to start working toward that process,” she says. “One purpose of the MoneyMatch program is to develop a saving behavior, and a member needs to save monthly for at least six months.”
Some participants are already strong savers and are ready to purchase their asset in six months. But most need more time, usually about 18 months.
MoneyMatch is most often used to buy a home. And staff often identify homebuying candidates through the Mortgage Makeovers. The free, one-on-one counseling sessions help members figure out where they are in the homebuying process and develop a plan to achieve homeownership.
“A home is the largest purchase most people will make, and the homebuying journey typically takes longer, which fits in nicely with the MoneyMatch program,” Becwar said.
What’s Next for MoneyMatch
Dupaco Community CU continues to evaluate and adjust the program to best fit members’ needs. Recently, the credit union has seen an increase in entrepreneurship endeavors. As more people pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, the CU sees an opportunity for MoneyMatch to help.
“Small businesses are the heart of the economy, driving innovation and creating job opportunities,” Becwar says. “We’re working with our business team and community organizations geared toward entrepreneurship so we can be there for them.”
About 25 members are participating in MoneyMatch, with the credit union typically celebrating five asset purchases each year.
“While we want to see the program continue to grow, it isn’t about hitting a magic number,” Becwar says. “It all comes back to our mission. Our success is in helping our members work toward a goal and achieve their dream.”
Emily Kittle is communication specialist for $1.9 billion Dupaco Community Credit Union, Dubuque, Iowa.