Senior Research Specialist
Collin O’Rourke focuses on evaluating financial education, counseling, and coaching programs. He recently completed the U.S. Treasury-funded evaluation of the My Classroom Economy financial education program, and he supports the Center’s research on emergency savings. He previously served as the youngest member of the Lake County and Lake County, IL Forest Preserve District Boards, and worked as the case study manager for 80,000 Hours at the University of Oxford. O’Rourke earned a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also completed his undergraduate studies.
The report introduces a new intervention called “FINMed.” FINMed is brief, solution-focused financial coaching session designed for people facing new ongoing out-of-pocket medical expenses or a pattern of problems paying for ongoing health care needs. The coaching involves:
- Determining the patient’s health goals and motivation
- Planning for the costs of health care
- Setting up a process to make sure the patient will have the funds needed when the next set of care (e.g., refill or therapy session) is due
This reports present research into the relationship between household financial behaviors and the ability to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses, particularly prescription drugs. Overall, households struggling to manage their finances appear more likely to skip medical treatments due to cost. In turn, failing to follow through on a medical treatment can lead to higher costs and worsening health status.
As the field of Financial Coaching continues to grow, so do the number of publications on the topic. The Center for Financial Security created a comprehensive literature review in October of 2015, which summarized the findings of 26 reports, briefs, articles and other publications over the last 8 years. In March of 2017 the Center for Financial Security updated the brief to include an additional dozen publications.
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 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: http://fyi.uwex.edu/creditreport/