An Investor’s Starter Kit

An IDA can help anyone begin saving regularly

Thanks to a successful IDA strategy, life is a walk on the beach for Monica Soulé.

Like many young professionals, Monica Soulé made a good salary and had a good eye for fashion. The Long Beach, California, resident lived a free spirited, shop-till-you-drop lifestyle that unfortunately didn’t include much saving for her future. Luckily for her, she decided to make a change.

“One day I realized that if I continued at the rate that I was going, I wouldn’t have a future for myself,” says Soulé, a software trainer in the radio industry. “If I did ever get married, I wouldn’t have anything to bring to the table and I would basically be a liability to any relationship that I was in.”

To get on the right road to saving for her future, Soulé turned to Cory Chapman, president and CEO of the I.M.O.C. Group, a Los Angeles-based financial services firm. Chapman introduced Soulé to the Individual Development Account (IDA), an investment vehicle that encourages systematic saving and provides itemized statements that track spending habits.

“The IDA program is designed so a client can put money away into an account that usually yields a higher rate of return than a normal, regular checking or savings account,” says Chapman. “On top of that, it gives them access to brokerage accounts that allow them to invest in mutual funds, stocks, bonds, or money market accounts.”

The entry point for an IDA can range from $500 to $10,000, depending on which financial institution you choose to open the account with. Soulé opened her account at I.M.O.C. four years ago with $2,500 and monthly payments of $250. After watching her money accumulate, she gradually increased her contributions to $450 a month. Soulé proudly says that she has gone from no savings at all to $20,000 since opening the IDA. Her account is invested mostly in mutual funds and has averaged a return of 14% a year.

Chapman says that an IDA should provide you with the following:

  • A resource checking account linked to a money market account that provides a better rate of return than a regular savings account.
  • Check writing privileges for paying bills.
  • Itemized statements that track spending habits, capital gains, and dividends.
  • A tax-coding feature that identifies potential deductions (crucial for the self-employed).
  • An ATM or Visa card for the account.

The IDA’s itemized statements were particularly helpful to Soulé, 30, because it let her see firsthand how her spending habits were depleting her savings. She says it really helped her change her spending tendencies. When she came to Chapman, she expressed that she wanted to save for a house and for her retirement. Now, she feels she is well on her way to reaching those goals. And another goal is on the horizon as well.

“I have finally met that special person in my life, and we have started talking about getting married,” says Soulé with excitement. “I can’t tell you what a feeling it is to actually have something to bring to the table and not have bills that I need

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