Meet Esmeralda: 2019 SaveYourRefund Grand Prize Winner

“I have a goal, and I am going to achieve that goal.” 2019 SaveYourRefund Grand Prize Winner Esmeralda says that savings has always been about achieving self-sufficiency amidst tremendous adversity. “It’s hard to pay myself first,” says Esmeralda, particularly when you have to anticipate emergency expenses like a broken down car.

To keep herself on track, she keeps emergency savings separate, going without conveniences to keep the peace of mind that, in the event of an unexpected expense, she would be covered without dipping into funds she has worked hard to secure for buying her own tiny home. But even with her financial savvy and self-discipline, life still gets in the way. Esmeralda, a survivor of domestic violence, spent several years escaping abuse, which required her to relocate so often it was impossible to maintain stability. By securing long term housing in a safe neighborhood, she wants to be an inspiration to other victims who have suffered the same traumas.

Esmeralda, a resident of Chicago who works in logistics, grew up with a particular appreciation for sustainable living. Spending the summers with her grandfather in Mexico, she learned what it looks like to live consciously in regards to human consumption: “If it didn’t rain that day, you didn’t take a shower. It was my first experience of self-sufficiency.” She has carried these values with her throughout her life, and plans to use her $10,000 grand prize on the tiny living lifestyle she has been working toward. Her own tiny home, outfitted with solar panels, will turn her hard-fought dreams of an independent and environmentally conscious life into a reality.

While Esmeralda has worked hard to secure a home of her own, her passion extends far beyond her own shelter. After years of specializing in inventories and other logistics for private companies, she wanted to use her skills to make an impact on the lives of people in crisis. Esmeralda went back to school to study humanitarian logistics in hopes of starting a career in disaster relief. She took a job as a bus driver so that she would have time to study, allowing her to finish her degree in half the expected time, while working contract jobs in the summer. She spent hours studying in the local library, where she noticed a small flyer advertising the free tax filing services of the nonprofit organization Ladder Up. Esmeralda had been a client of Ladder Up for three years when, this year, she found out about the SaveYourRefund campaign and was inspired to tell her story. After years of saving to create a better life for herself, this grand prize will allow her to turn her attention to making a difference in the lives others.

Over the past seven years, SaveYourRefund has encouraged over 18,000 people to save over $15 million of their tax refunds using Form 8888. The promotion is offered by America Saves and Commonwealth.

Take the Pledge

I pledge to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth over time. I will encourage my family and friends to do the same

Take the America Saves Pledge

Tip of the Day

  • Keep track of your spending. At least once a month, use credit card, checking, and other records to review what you've purchased. Then, ask yourself if it makes sense to reallocate some of this spending to an emergency savings account. http://ow.ly/sj972

Share Your Tip or Story

And if we feature you in our newsletter, you get $25.

Share

Saver Tips and Stories View all »

Transforming “I Can’t Save” to “I Will Save”

You will not believe what it took to completely change my life. About three years ago, the HR Administrator of the corporation where I worked (as a temp with no benefits) forwarded an email to me. Fifteen seconds. One small act of kindness. That's it - that's all it took!

Read more...

Jump-Starting a Financial Makeover

Nichelle Johnson, a single mom with two teenage children, knows what it’s like to stretch a dollar. When she moved back to Virginia Beach in 2008, she provided for her family with just a part-time library position.

Read more...

Taking Steps Toward Financial Fitness

Nicky Vasquez learned about Virginia Saves when she attended her first class with Bank On Virginia Beach. The instructor shared how important it was to have a written savings goal, and the entire class joined Virginia Saves as the first step toward financial fitness.

Read more...

Receive Updates

Take the Pledge

Start Saving

Receive Texts

Learn More

Partner News & Updates

Sign Up