Check out stories and some of this year’s lucky $100 winners!

We asked SaveYourRefund entrants why they save, and here’s what they said:

To Olga, saving is inextricably tied to providing an excellent education for her son. Helping him to attend college in the United States is the reason she moved to Minnesota several years ago, leaving behind her dental practice and extended family in Cali, Columbia.It was hard to adjust to the differences between the Minnesota suburbs and her home. Cali is nestled in the mountains, and near the Pacific Ocean; one of the largest and fastest growing cities in Columbia. It is known for salsa dancing, sports, and beautiful architecture.“I’m trying to get my dental license but it is too hard for me – now I have to take another job, said Olga. “The difficulty of getting re-certified in English as well as the cost of classes are really both very tough. I am 52 and so it is so hard for me to make a change like this, even though it is important for my family.”As a single mom, diligently improving her English, going to night classes and working in a food processing plant – she has to be very careful with her money. And there isn’t much time for reading, dancing, and her other interests.“My first year here, I knew nothing about taxes – it was so different from Cali,” shared Olga. “The volunteers were so nice. I told my tax preparer that I might have trouble understanding because of the language barrier but she said that was no problem.”Olga already had a savings account for her refund, “I like to save. I try but I can only save a little, because life here is different – rent is expensive, a lot of things are expensive. I make enough to pay my bills, and help my son,” but the money doesn’t go much farther than that. In addition to saving some of her refund, she’s helping her son with his student loans, since he’s going to school full time in Mankato, Minnesota and working.
-Prepare + Prosper

For Keith, saving is a lifelong habit – one he didn’t expect to lead to the $100 prize. “I come here for free tax prep and the rewards you offer are just splendid,” said Keith. “I was really surprised when I won! I didn’t think I was going to win. I had never won a drawing before!”A Saint Paul native, he spends his semi-retirement working half days at FedEx as a truck off loader. After work, he enjoys spending time with his significant other, friends, and family – he has three grown children and grandchildren in the Twin Cities and in Texas. In his youth, he played baseball and basketball with local boys clubs like the Highland Groveland Rec. After graduating from Central High, he went into the Marines, though he was later given a medical discharge. “I get medical benefits now, which is why I work part time,” shared Keith. “I had a lot of driving jobs back in the day. I started as a school bus driver and then moved up from there, including truck driving jobs. I know I don’t have too many years ahead of me at work, but they do say to work as long as you can.” Budgeting and savings are Keith’s long-established routine, “It’s hard, but I’m doing it. I have direct deposit for my paycheck. I put my earnings directly into my savings account, and then divide it in half. Half goes right into checking for bills and spending.” Just like his paycheck, Keith’s tax refund will go right into savings, too. Some of it will go toward expenses, but saving some is a habit he’s proud to have built.
-Prepare + Prosper

My fiance and I are getting married in June of 2018 and many people know, weddings can cost a fortune. I saved my refund and am going to spend it entirely on our wedding. I am beyond grateful to win the $100 through Save Your Refund as it will also go to the wedding of our dreams!
– Olivia Wilson, Community Action Partnership of Lancaster and Saunders Counties

William, who did his taxes at United Way of Lancaster County, saves part of his tax refund every year to buy Christmas and b-day presents for his four children and 3 grandchildren. Every chance he gets, he puts some money into his savings account, including spare change and windfalls like tax refunds.

Marcine, a single mother of three teenagers, one of which is a college-aged son, came to PathWays PA to have her tax return prepared. Marcine has an annual income of just under $22,000 last year so she qualified for several credits – the EITC, Child Tax and Education Credit. Marcine received a refund of over $11,000 – more than 50% of her annual income. Since tax time presents a great opportunity to encourage saving, the tax preparer explained the ease of saving a portion of her refund by splitting it in to multiple accounts.  The preparer also mentioned that by saving at least $50 of her refund, Marcine could enter the “saveyourrefund” contest to win a weekly prize of $100 and qualify to win a grand prize of $10,000. Marcine was pleased and excited that she could easily save some of her refund during the tax appointment and decided to enter the contest. She put $7000 in her savings account and the remaining $4000 in her checking account. Marcine said that even if she did not win a prize, she wanted to take the opportunity to save a portion of her refund.
Left: PathwaysPA preparer with client

“Savings for my golden years!”
-Alexis Spahr, North Texas Area United Way

“I plan to use my tax refund for paying down my debt, making some much needed repairs to my vehicle, savings for a rainy day, and spoiling my beautiful new granddaughter… If I win, I would definitely start a savings account or some type of savings plan for my special girl’s education.”
– Kim Wicks, Capital Area United Way

Veronica Rabuy chose to split her refund at Fremont Family Resource Center for a fun vacation. For her, this means flying to Brooklyn to see her cousins new born baby!