Retirement planning and saving is often a difficult task for individuals and families. Studies show that more than one in four workers have less than $1000 in retirement savings. The question of how to stimulate employees to save for retirement has led to a variety of different tactics. Join us for our March 1st webinar, which will discuss a field study completed by researchers from the Center for Financial Security, which tracks the effect of financial education on retirement savings in an online format. Results of the study show that this information-based intervention increases the reported participation in retirement planning, saving and using a budget. Presenters will include Carly Urban, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Montana State University; Billy Hensley, Senior Director of Education, National Endowment for Financial Education; Tarna Hunter, Director of Strategic Engagement and Government Relations, Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds; and Shelly Schueller, Deferred Compensation Director, Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds.
The Center for Financial Security (CFS) and the National League of Cities (NLC) produced a webinar featuring research findings and future implications of the newly completed evaluation of Local Interventions for Financial Empowerment through Utility Payments (LIFT-UP) program. Listen to Denise Belser of NLC speak on the program’s background; Bonnie Ashcroft, of Houston’s Department of Public Works and Engineering, discuss the participating city perspective; and researcher Stephanie Moulton present on the findings and implications of the program.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has released new resources for financial educators including Building Blocks to Help Youth Achieve Financial Capability, a report brief that presents a new financial capability developmental model and makes recommendations for financial education. Based on the developmental framework that is introduced in the report, the CFPB also released a Youth Personal Finance Pedagogy, a teaching tool to enhance personal financial education in schools.
Center Affiliates and UW-Madison youth financial capability experts, Elizabeth Odders-White and Chuck Kalish, were part of the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) team that conducted research described in the report.
The Center for Financial Security recently completed an evaluation of My Classroom Economy (MCE), an innovative approach to financial education. In contrast to more traditional financial education programs based around lesson plans, MCE is experiential. Teachers establish a classroom-based economy that integrates into the school day as a classroom management system. Research suggests that this type of experiential approach is a promising teaching strategy, with the added benefit of minimizing time away from other classroom activities.
During the 2015-2016 school year, 24 elementary schools in the School District of Palm Beach County, FL participated in the evaluation. Students in MCE classrooms show consistent gains in financial knowledge, budgeting, financial socialization, and economic experience after 10 weeks. These effects range in size but are all statistically significant and positive. Overall, the results of this study are encouraging and highlight the promise of experiential learning programs like MCE for elementary school–age students.
Presentation slides from the September 21, 2016 webinar are available to view.
A supplementary guide discusses the Center’s development of the survey measures used in the evaluation.
The evaluation was performed under contract TOS-14F-0028 for the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
The Center for Financial Security conducted the evaluation of LIFT-UP, with CFS researcher Stephanie Moulton leading the study, which shows that participating cities were better able to collect overdue water utility payments with less reliance on costly debt collection agencies or resorting to shutting off service to customers. At the same time, program participants were able to catch up on overdue bills, make more on-time payments and save money on late fees.
FINRA released results of the National Financial Capability Study in July, a report that provides comprehensive findings of financial behavior in the United States. The survey is part of an ongoing, multi-year effort with consultation from the U.S. Department of Treasury, to better understand the key indicators of financial capability and evaluate how they differ based on varying population demographics and characteristics.
Retirement planning is a difficult task for many people in the U.S. and as studies by the National Institute on Retirement Security show, about 38 million working-age households do not have any retirement savings. Various tactics to increase participation in retirement savings in the workplace have been employed, such as tax subsidies and automatic defaults. Some states are even seeking to pass legislation on state run retirement programs for private sector employees.
A newly published paper,The Role of Information on Retirement Planning: Evidence from a Field Study, authored by CFS Faculty Director J. Michael Collins and CFS Research Fellow Carly Urban, present the findings of a randomized field study showing that an information-based intervention increased participation in retirement plan savings. Education programs offered to employees increased their monthly contributions to retirement accounts, a finding that shows promise for retirement education programs as a strategy for increased saving.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released the Money as You Grow book club materials on their website, which can be accessed HERE. The book club is a family financial education program that uses children’s books to help families learn key money concepts through reading, play, and quiet one-on-one talks.
The 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.
Faculty Director, Center for Financial Security
Fetzer Family Chair in Consumer and Personal Finance
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.
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