When Bridget and David Hawk helped their son, Shaun, open his ABLE United account, they didn’t have a dedicated purpose for the funds he’d save. They just knew that saving money was a smart thing to do. Obvious, even.
But Shaun had plans.
“Shaun always had a car in mind,” Bridget said with a laugh. “Shaun always wanted to buy a car from the time he got his driver’s license.”
And that’s just what he did. In September, the now-20-year-old bought a used black Mazda 3 that he had to save for himself, just like his mother did when she was a teen. His parents had gone to see him in Jacksonville, where he’s a sophomore at University of North Florida studying computer science and business technology. Bridget thought they were just going to have a family weekend visit, until they spent an entire Saturday at Carmax.
“It can be anything you want it to be.”
“It’s nice to see him happy,” Bridget said of her son, who has cerebral palsy. “He’s been so dependent on others. Taking the bus is tough. If he’s going food shopping, he can’t carry all those bags back. He gets to go to church now; he doesn’t have to count on other people for rides. Being independent has changed his life.”
The Hawks opened an ABLE United account for their son in July 2016, when the tax-free savings accounts “first came out,” she said. As the Special Olympics Florida director for Leon County, she frequently encounters people that are fearful to save because they don’t want to put their SSI benefits at risk.
“I see how the majority of them barely get by because they’re not allowed to keep any money, or they’ll get penalized,” she said. She knows some people spend money that they could otherwise save, just to avoid a reduction in their benefits. If they had an ABLE United account, they could save without that risk.
“My message to everyone that I run into is sometimes people are reluctant, and I don’t understand why,” she said. “It can be anything you want it to be.”
ABLE United account holders are able to build their own investment portfolios using money markets, bond funds, stock funds, and international stock funds. The only fees are the small percentages that are associated with the funds themselves, just like with any mutual fund. There is no enrollment or monthly maintenance fee.