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Growing Forward with the Owners’ Dividend: Jared Smith

Q&A with Jared Smith, ESL personal banking member for 18 years

When Jared Smith started his first job at Wegmans at the age of 15, it also marked his first step on his financial wellness journey. Excited by the prospect of setting up direct deposit for his paychecks as a new employee, one of the first actions he took was opening a savings account with ESL. Over the past 17 years, as his career at Wegmans has continued to flourish—starting in floor operations and working his way up to his current position as front-end manager for the East Avenue store—so too has his savings portfolio. Additional earnings from yearly Owners’ Dividend payouts have helped Jared become more financially independent and invest in his future of becoming a first-time homebuyer.

What was your reaction to your first Owners’ Dividend payout?

One of the thoughts running through my head was, “Am I sure this is my money and where did it come from?” When I did learn that it was mine, I talked to my father about it and he was able to help me understand and appreciate what I could do with it, and I was able to save some of that money. Then, each time it came, I was able to save more and more of it, and it’s put me in a better position to do what I’m doing today, which is purchasing a home.

I’m a first-time homebuyer and am in the underwriting process of closing on a home in September. I don’t think it will feel real until I have the key in my hand, but the ESL team has been great to work with. They answer all of my questions, and because it was my first time, I had a lot of questions!


After receiving the Owners’ Dividend over the years, is there anything special you’ve done with your payout?

When I was younger, it was primarily about saving. Financial wellness was something that was definitely instilled in me at a young age. My parents helped me understand the importance of saving, what we go to work for, and what it will do for the future.

Later on, when I moved into my first apartment, it was nice to have that extra money saved to use for things I needed to live on my own and be an adult. It’s a nice cushion every year and it always sort of felt unexpected. Even though I would start to realize it was coming, it was always nice when it showed up and to know it was there.

What does it mean to you to belong to something bigger?

When I think of ESL, I also think of Wegmans because it was my first job and it was also the first time I had my own bank account that I didn’t need to have my father sign onto—it was completely mine.

It’s something that’s very memorable to me and helped me appreciate that I do belong to something bigger, because at a young age, I first viewed my job as a means to get through my high school years and then it turned into a career. I view my relationship with ESL the same way—it was a smaller account that I used to store money in, but now I belong to something bigger. By growing it and by receiving the Owners’ Dividend, it’s put me into a better position to actually purchase my first home. It’s been with me my whole life and has helped me grow as an adult. To me, that’s belonging to something bigger—something that stays with you at a young age and keeps going into your adulthood.

The team is always so friendly and accommodating and willing to help you. I am appreciative of the opportunity to work with them and how they allow young people to be able to build their life in the way they want it to go. I would definitely encourage others to use the Owners’ Dividend because it’s a great opportunity and is also something ESL allows you to invest back in yourself, so I think that’s always great.

Learn how an annual dividend payout has grown to become so much more >

The individual Owners’ Dividend payout amounts ESL members receive are based on established Owners’ Dividend criteria. For more information about the criteria, please visit Qualification for the Owners’ Dividend is subject to eligibility requirements and payment of the Owners’ Dividend is not guaranteed.