Financial Literacy Effectiveness in Central Texas
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Many psychological and social factors influence financial behavior. Changing financial behavior requires teaching behaviors, as well as content. Evaluation of financial education programs now focus on behavioral modifications made, rather than changes in recitative knowledge. Financial literacy and financial education programs are widely used in the cooperative extension system to promote stability and consumer welfare. Wi$eUp is a program offered by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service to increase savings and decrease debts. Wi$eUp was designed with Generation X and Y in mind and was offered to thousands of participants both online and through classroom sessions. Using 125 final surveys of participants who took the course, collected three months after completion, we study the changes made by participants who took Wi$eUp’s savings and debt modules. From these surveys reporting changes in behavior we find that, holding other factors constant, debt behavior changed significantly with Wi$eUp participation in the module on debt. Participants who took both debt and savings modules had the highest gains in healthy debt behavior. Gains in healthy savings scores were not statistically significant, but participants who received both debt and savings education modules did score higher than single-module participants. Savings behavior appears to be not as malleable as debt behavior, potentially because of the psychological nature of saving and the need for a longer timeline. Highest level of education attained before Wi$eUp also contributed significantly to changes in behavior.
Robinson, Lauren Pheriche (2014). Financial Literacy Effectiveness in Central Texas. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from