Center for Financial Security and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Finances Research Workshop

rwjf-hss-dark-greenThe intersection of health and finance is an increasingly linked area of study that continues to gain traction in research and policy. Collaboration and discussion across disciplines and sectors of health and financial well-being are fundamental to the progress of these fields.

On June 1, 2016, the Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin‐Madison, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholars program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, hosted a Health and Finances Research Workshop to convene faculty and researchers across UW-Madison and the Center for Financial Security and related centers on campus to explore existing research and to foster future research ideas. CFS initiated this effort to discover innovative research opportunities as well as nurture this growing community of scholars committed to building the field of health and finance research.  

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Summer 2016 Financial Coaching Newsletter Now Available

Screenshot 2016-02-29 13.50.26Articles include:

  • Best Practices for Outreach and Client Recruitment for Financial Coaching Programs written by Anna Wood, MSW
  • Review You Can Use: Coaching Skills Handbook, 3rd Edition by author Jenny Rogers, review by Peggy Olive
  • CFED Listening and Learning Webinar Series
  • CFE Fund: The Professionalizing Field of Financial Coaching and Counseling
  • The Financial Coaching Census: Results and a Look Ahead
  • Fall 2016 Coaching Training Opportunity

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Peggy Olive Shares Strategies for Balancing Monthly Expenses

Collaboration_emergency_savingsA growing number of people in Wisconsin struggle with balancing their day-to-day expenses with the income they are bringing in. Between 2009 and 2014 the vast majority of the state of Wisconsin saw stagnant or declining household incomes. In this article, written for WisCONTEXT’s Series on Literacy in Wisconsin, financial capability expert Peggy Olive shares insights into easing the tightening of household budgets.

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“Check Your Free Credit Report Reminder Campaign” Selected as 1st Place National Winner and 1st Place Central Region Winner in the NEAFCS Annual Awards Program

check your free creditThe University of Wisconsin-Extension’s “Check Your Free Credit Report Campaign” was entered for the Dean Don Felker Financial Management Award and won first place both nationally and in the central region category. The campaign provides a website that walks consumers through the process of obtaining free credit reports, reading them, and dealing with any errors. The campaign also sends reminders to subscribers three times a year, on 2/2, 6/6, 10/10, reminding them to pull their credit on that day. The campaign currently has more than 720 subscribers.

To sign up to receive reminders and access the website, visit:


J. Michael Collins, Erik Hembre, Carly Urban, and Drew Anderson Recipients of 2016 Sandell Grant Program

Homepage_pigThe Center for Retirement Research sponsors the annual Steven H. Sandell Grant Program for scholars in the field of retirement research and policy. The program is funded by the U.S. Social Security Administration to provide opportunities for junior scholars from all academic disciplines to pursue cutting-edge projects on retirement income issues.
This year J. Michael Collins, Carly Urban and Erik Hembre were awarded the Sandell Grant for their research around the role of mortgages in retirement.

Drew Anderson was awarded the Sandell Grant for his work in the area of women’s retirement savings and the influence of increasing knowledge and attention to retirement planning on their account balances.

MyBudgetCoach Pilot Study: Final Report and Summary Brief

my-budget-coachThis pilot study explores the delivery and effectiveness of MyBudgetCoach (MyBC), a financial coaching program designed to help low- and moderate-income adults develop budgeting skills, set financial goals, and work towards those goals. This study compares two modes of program delivery: in-person coaching and fully remote coaching. By testing financial coaching in these two contexts, this project seeks to shed light on how to increase the scale of coaching using technology while maintaining an individualized focus on clients’ goals and promoting behavior change.

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Drew Anderson Featured as Student Loan Debt Expert on WalletHub

Drew Anderson, Postdoctoral Researcher for CFS, shares expert advice on WalletHub surrounding college tuition and student loan debt issues by answering the following questions:

What are the most common mistakes people make when financing their post-secondary education?
What should people consider when applying for student loans?
What steps should someone take if they find they cannot afford their student-loan payments?
What impact, if any, does the large and growing amount of outstanding student-loan debt have on the economy as a whole?

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Financial Coaching Census 2015: RESULTS BRIEF

AFN-Financial Census-cover graphicFinancial coaching has gained recognition as a strategy that can improve financial capability and security. Yet within this advancing field of practice, many questions remain. 


What is the current size of the field? 

How is financial coaching being implemented? 

How do organizations, coaches, and funders measure success?

And what is needed to support more effective implementation?  

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Webinar: 2015 Financial Coaching Census Results

AFN-Financial Census-Graphic1.5 title graphic no authorThe Center for Financial Security (CFS) and Asset Funders Network (AFN), with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, developed and released the first-ever Financial Coaching Census in the fall of 2015.

On May 8, 2016, presenters Hallie Lienhardt, Center for Financial Security, and Regina Salliey, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, with Annika Little, Asset Funders Network, shared the results of the Census, providing an overview of the field nationally – the size and scope of the financial coaching field, identified challenges and opportunities, and shared insights for funders and organizations delivering coaching to better and more swiftly address the shifting needs of coaching programs, financial coaching practitioners, and financial coaching clients.

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My Classroom Economy Evaluation: Early Findings


This brief highlights early findings from the Center for Financial Security’s evaluation of the My Classroom Economy (MyCE) financial education program. MyCE is an experiential approach to teaching financial knowledge and skills. Students learn financial lessons through direct experience: they earn classroom “dollars” for jobs they perform, use this currency to pay rent for their desks, and are subject to bonuses and fines as determined by their teacher. Materials are available free of charge from

The Center for Financial Security has been working with the School District of Palm Beach County to evaluate the program in 113 classrooms across 24 schools during the 2015-2016 school year. This brief highlights results from student, parent, and teacher surveys.

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The evaluation is funded by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Empowerment Innovation  Fund (performed under contract TOS-14F-0028). My Classroom Economy is underwritten and made freely available by Vanguard.

Peggy Olive

CFSoliveFinancial Capability Specialist

As Financial Capability Specialist, I hold a joint appointment with SoHE’s Center for Financial Security and with UW-Extension Cooperative Extension Family Living Programs. Prior to joining UW-Madison, I worked with UW-Extension providing community-based education, with a focus on financial coaching, counseling, and education for individuals and community partners. I have also worked as a therapist, home visitor, and collaborative services coordinator. In all of my previous positions, I’ve been privileged to talk with hundreds of people about their money – goals, fears, hopes, challenges. While my academic focus is to translate research from household finance and learning theories into financial education programs on the UW-Madison campus and statewide in partnership with UW-Extension, my purpose is to help people align their money with their values. I graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a Bachelor of Science in Social Welfare and a Master’s in Social Work, and hold a Professional Life Coaching Certificate from UW-Madison.

(608) 262-6766

Justin Sydnor

Justin SydnorActing Faculty Director (2015/2016 Academic Year) &
Associate Director of Research, Center for Financial Security
Associate Professor, Actuarial Science, Risk Management & Insurance
Wisconsin School of Business
University of Wisconsin-Madison


In addition to my roles as Acting Faculty Director and Associate Director of Research with the Center for Financial Security, I am an associate professor in the Department of Actuarial Science, Rise Management, and Insurance the Wisconsin School of Business.  Prior to coming to UW, I was an assistant professor of economics with Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management. I am an applied microeconomist specializing in behavioral economics. My interests are wide-ranging and eclectic and include the study of risk aversion and insurance choices, discrimination, and issues surrounding self-control and commitment.  My B.A. is in economics and German from UW-Madison and my Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley.

(608) 263-2138

Areas of Research Interest:  Psychology and Economics, Applied Microeconomics, (Behavioral) Industrial Organization, Insurance Markets, and Risk and Decision Making

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J. Michael Collins

CollinsFaculty Director, Center for Financial Security
Associate Professor, Consumer Science
Associate Professor, La Follette School of Public Affairs
University of Wisconsin-Madison

In addition to serving as Faculty Director of Center for Financial Security, I hold appointments at the La Follette School of Public Affairs, UW-Extension, Cooperative Extension and the Institute for Research on Poverty.

I study consumer decision-making in the financial marketplace, including the role of public policy in influencing credit, savings and investment choices. My current focus is on financial capability and well-being with a focus on low-income families.

I came to academia after consulting and working in the nonprofit/foundation sector, as well as the public sector. My masters is from the John F. Kennedy School of Government and Harvard University and my PhD is from Cornell University.

(608) 262-0369

Areas of Research Interest:  Consumer Decision-Making in the Financial Marketplace, Role of Public Policy in Influencing Credit, Savings and Investment Choices, Financial Capability with Focus on Low-Income Families, and Household Finance

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