RIPON — Somebody has stepped forward to claim the $500 savings account dangled by City Councilman Mike Restuccia.
Zoe Hardy has proven her eligibility since her Jan. 5 birth, he said.
Restuccia, a retired banker and now consultant, and his wife, Mona, put up the money earlier this year to raise awareness about saving — something Restuccia laments too few Americans do. The account was earmarked for the first Ripon baby born in 2008 whose parents make less than 120 percent of the median income. He set a March 1 deadline to apply.
"We will hopefully help a child out," Restuccia said Tuesday. "And based on our conversation with her mom and dad, this is going to speed up savings they were planning on creating a few years down the road for her college. I think this child is going to have a lot of money to go to college."
The family was one of four who inquired about the offer at the Ripon Chamber of Commerce. The family met with Restuccia on Saturday, and the account should be set up this week, he said.
Zoe will be able to access it once she turns 18.
"It's a really good opportunity for our daughter, so we're really excited about it," said Jenna Klingenfuss, Zoe's mother.
She and Zoe's dad, Matthew Hardy, both 22, were planning to set up a savings account for their daughter's college education, and this jump-started the process, she said.
She is a phone operator at the Riverbank Relay Center and Hardy is a welder.
In the course of promoting the account, Restuccia has pressed the potential of a little bit of money to become much more through interest and by regularly depositing even a small amount of money.
On the flip side, he points to dismal savings rates by Americans: The median account balance in a 401(k)-style account among workers ages 55 to 64 was $50,000 in 2004, according to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office last year. The figure is projected to be about half that for today's teenagers when they retire.
Restuccia brought his pitch to Ripon Elementary School earlier this month and offered 56 eighth-graders $20 savings accounts and a challenge: The five students with the most amount of money in their account next year get an additional $100, he said.
"I think those children will be very conscious of saving money, and they will tell their friends about saving money," he said. "We talked about credit cards, and I explained how if you buy something on credit how long it can take to pay it off. The kids understood that. It doesn't take much to save millions."