Are You Kidding? A 401(k) Plan for the Homeless?

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Benefit Systems, Inc., an Austin-based 401(k) administration firm, has established a savings plan for the homeless. By selling buttons for $2 at congested corners during rush hour the homeless keep $1 of the proceeds and 50 cents is set aside in savings.

and hugs are healthier than coffee.

Benefit Systems, Inc., an Austin-based 401(k) administration firm, isn't laughing. A simple strategy allows the unfortunate to sell buttons on congested corners during rush hour. The peddlers keep a dollar of the proceeds and 50 cents is set aside for a rainy day.

The process begins when the itinerant entrepreneurs are gifted 25 free buttons which sell for $2 each. Once the buttons have sold, the salesperson is free to either pocket the cash or use 50% or more of the proceeds to purchase additional buttons at the wholesale price of $1.00 each. Fifty cents of every button purchased is set aside in an account for the new achievers. A determined down-and-out promoter can sell more than 100 buttons a day. It is a road to hope -- the American Dream at the most fundamental level.

Inspired by "The Secret," a film which portrays the manner in which success breeds success and failure breeds failure, Benefit Systems, Inc. President, Bryan Uecker, wants to offer those caught in a downward spiral a new path. Uecker is counting on the kindness of strangers and Austin's heavy traffic to make this endeavor a success. In anticipation of "National Hugging Day" celebrated January 21, the first button will read "Free Hugs" in large bold letters. "Two-bucks to become a hug-magnet is really quite a deal," says Uecker, who reportedly receives over 20 hugs a day when sporting a button, "and hugs are healthier than coffee." Uecker intends to offer a different button every month to help the roofless agents attract repeat business. "Many are open to contributing to an opportunity that provides incentive, discipline and hope to the hopeless and getting a button of honor to boot."

Benefit Systems will administer the program, including recordkeeping, gratis. Donations and balances from those who forfeit their accounts will be allocated equally to remaining participant accounts. Once a participant's savings account reaches $1,000, he or she will be allowed to direct the money towards a deposit on housing, clothing, or a personal bank account. Photos and success stories of the participants will be maintained at http://www.freehugsaustin.org.

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Bryan Uecker
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