Current Projects

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Financial Security is an applied, multidisciplinary research center that seeks to inform practitioners, policymakers, and the general public on strategies that build financial capability over the life course.


Measurement:

Financial Coaching Outcome Measures Project

In partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Extension, the Center for Financial Security is analyzing how a unique Wisconsin-based program, Money $mart in Head Start, affects families’ financial security. Money $mart in Head Start is a multi-county effort in which Head Start families can participate in financial coaching, attend financial education workshops, and receive monthly financial newsletters. Money $mart in Head Start represents a novel effort to integrate financial capability services into an existing public program in order to reach vulnerable families. The program is now in its third year. This research is funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Field Experiment on the Impacts of Financial Planning Interventions for Recent Homebuyers

Researchers from The Ohio State University and UW-Madison are developing, piloting, and evaluating online financial planning strategies for low- and moderate-income families and individuals during a critical financial event:  purchasing their first home.  This project is funded by the Social Security Administration. 


Targeting:

Prepaid Debit Card Take-Up and Use Among Lower-Income Households

In partnership with the Center for Economic Progress in Chicago, the Center for Financial Security is exploring the take-up and use of prepaid debit cards among Volunteer Income Tax Assistance clients. In recent years, prepaid cards have emerged as a popular alternative to traditional checking accounts.  For lower-income individuals who are concerned about incurring penalties and fees, prepaid debit cards’ transparent fee structure can prove highly appealing. The study will be randomized and will test whether marketing that emphasizes peer behavior, all else equal, boosts take-up. This project is funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Financial Well-Being for Persons with Disabilities:The Role of Transactional Accounts

Researchers from the Social Security Administration and the Center for Financial Security are estimating the population of disability payment-receiving individuals who are unbanked and prefer not to use electronic forms of transactions.  This project is funded by the Social Security Administration. 


Testing:

Lift: Lower Interest for Timelines - Payment Incentive for Subprime Auto Loans

This project targets the growing population of low-to-moderate income borrowers with subprime credit, with the goal of improving financial capability by rewarding consistent, timely loan payments on automobile loans. Eligible borrowers from six credit unions across the US are randomly assigned to receive the LIFT incentive. This project is a partnership between the Filene Research Institute and the Center for Financial Security and is funded by the Center for Financial Services Innovation.

iCoach2Win: Assessing the Impact of Technology in Financial Coaching

This project seeks to use an online interface to enhance an existing volunteer budget coaching program and position it for future growth and replication. The budget coaching program is being implemented by Co-Opportunity of Hartford, Connecticut in partnership with the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut and the Human Resources Agency of New Britain. The Center for Financial Security is conducting the evaluation. This project is funded by the Center for Financial Services Innovation. 

Money $mart in Head Start - Integrating Financial Capability Into Head Start

In partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Extension, the Center for Financial Security is analyzing how a unique Wisconsin-based program, Money $mart in Head Start, affects families’ financial security. Money $mart in Head Start is a multi-county effort in which Head Start families can participate in financial coaching, attend financial education workshops, and receive monthly financial newsletters. Money $mart in Head Start represents a novel effort to integrate financial capability services into an existing public program in order to reach vulnerable families. The program is now in its third year. This research is funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Field Studies of Financial Coaching's Capacity to Facilitate Behavior Change

Using data gathered from multiple financial coaching programs across the country, the Center for Financial Security is exploring the effects of coaching on participants’ financial security. This research is focused on how coaching encourages behavior change and facilitates goal attainment. This research is funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Assessing Financial Capability Outcomes: New York City Parks Opportunity Program

CFS is working with the Corporation for Enterprise Development to complete a study to assess the combined impact of access to financial products and advice on the financial stability and well-being of low- and moderate-income adults. CFS is partnering with the NYC Office of Financial Empowerment to assess the impact of financial counseling on the bank account use and financial stability of individuals offered safe checking accounts as part of a transitional employment program:  NYC’s Parks Opportunity Program (POP).  POP is one of the country’s longest-running transitional employment programs.  This research is funded by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. 

Assessing Financial Capability Outcomes: Money F-I-T (Financial Instruction for Teachers)

CFS, through a partnership with the Corporation for Enterprise Development, is working with Royal Credit Union and the Eau Claire Area School District to launch the Money F-I-T (Financial Instruction for Teachers) pilot program to examine whether 4th and 5th grade students learn more from personal finance instruction when they have savings account access through an in-school credit union branch.  Teachers will receive training to provide personal finance curriculum to students in the areas of saving, personal money management, financial decision-making, and banking services.  This research is funded by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Impact of Financial Counseling on Financial Stability

Understanding which methods of delivering financial education and advice are most effective is important for the development of public programs.  This study, a collaboration between the Center for Financial Security and the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs Office of Financial Empowerment, examines whether one-on-one financial counseling has added value for individuals seeking financial advice relative to financial education workshops. Using credit report and survey data, the project will provide a comprehensive picture of counseling’s impacts on financial knowledge, behavior, and outcomes.  This project is funded by the Social Security Administration.