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Impact of Finances 50+ Training Classes on Individuals' Financial Behaviors

AARP Foundation, in collaboration with Charles Schwab Foundation, designed and disseminated a financial capability curriculum targeted to the 50+ age group to approximately 11 organizations nationwide. Classes were offered beginning in September 2012 through December 2013.   Approximately 2,775 people participated in these classes.

The purpose of the report is to evaluate the impact of the financial training by:

  • Comparing behaviors relating to key financial topics before and after participating in the class
  • Determining whether desired financial behaviors increased after participating in the class 

A pre-test post-test evaluation methodology was designed by AARP in which financial behaviors, including behaviors around spending, saving, budgeting, investing, handling debt, etc., were measured prior to training and at two follow-up time points (3- and 6-month post training). Analysis of respondents' financial behaviors pre- and post-training reveals notable findings on the impact of the training classes:

1. Participants' levels of anxiety about their financial situations decreased significantly from before to after the training, with the proportion "very worried" dropping by 36% (from 22% to 14%) from pre-training to six months post-training, while those "not very/not at all worried" increased 24% (from 34% to 42%) during the same time period. 

2. Participant scores on the Financial Management Behavior Scale (FMBS)  measured at three points in time show that there was a statistically significant improvement in average scale scores pre- and post-training.   

3. Looking at other discrete indicators of change in financial behaviors, most significant post-training (6-month) change was found in the following "positive" behaviors:

  • calculating net worth 
  • reducing financial fees 
  • reducing spending and/or increasing earnings
  • prioritizing debt payment
  • reviewing credit card statement 

Likewise, frequency of some "negative" behaviors declined significantly 6 months post, including:

  • being overdrawn 
  • being contacted by a collector 
  • taking out a payday loan

4. Developing a clear financial goal was a major accomplishment for those who took the training, with a 50% improvement rate in participants setting a goal.  Among those with a defined goal, the proportion with an Action Plan increased 40% by the end of the study period.  

Overall this study shows positive and statistically significant changes in financial behavior and attitudes when comparing people to their responses before taking part in Finances 50+SM. These results are consistent with the goal of the program, namely to help a targeted population of vulnerable households to improve their financial practices.

The study period began in September 2012 and continued through December 2013.  Data were collected by phone, paper, and online.  The findings are based on the responses of 427 participants who completed a baseline survey, 3-month follow-up survey, and 6-month follow-up survey.  

For more information, please contact Lona Choi-Allum at Members of the media should contact AARP’s Media Relations Department at (202) 434-2560.

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