The Financial Hope Collaborative at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska is conducting a first-of-its-kind study to determine the health effects of financial education on single working mothers. It’s called the Finances First Study.
Participants -- single working mothers ages 19-55 -- are randomized to receive either a year-long financial education program, or no financial education program. Those who do not receive financial education will be offered a slot to participate the following year if they desire.
Whether or not they receive financial education, all participants undergo two clinic visits at Creighton University, monthly phone follow-up, and a monetary stipend for time and travel.
Those randomized to the financial education program also receive nine weeks of education, including dinner and childcare, one year of one-on-one financial coaching, and ongoing continuing education.
The Financial Hope Collaborative was started when United Way of the Midlands created the Financial Stability Partnership in 2006. According to the group's website, the Financial Success Program began in 2009 and has an 86% retention rate—one of the highest retention rates in the country for a financial education program.
“Once they know they have choices, that things can get better, they have hope. And once people have hope, they can change their behavior. And that’s what we are seeing with this program. People are changing their financial behaviors.”
The program’s curriculum helps LMI families address immediate financial issues and develop decision making skills in areas, such as tracking expenses, saving for emergencies, and repairing credit reports.
Executive Director Julie Kalkowski has said that The Financial Hope Collaborative and its Financial Success Program have been instrumental in helping many low to moderate income (LMI) families in the Omaha metropolitan area find financial stability.
Kalkowski says about this new study,
“If the Finances First study can show improved health outcomes for single mothers, we can broaden the healthcare discussion in America to recognize the role financial stress plays in public health outcomes. For the study this year, we will educate an additional 120 single mothers beyond our normal enrollment. Thus, our annual budget and program needs have increased significantly.“
Those interested can click here to donate to the Finances First study.
Thanks to Consumer Relations Consortium (CRC) member General Service Bureau and its CEO Therese Yakel, Julie Kalkowski joined our CRC-regulator-consumer advocate roundtable session in November 2017. This is where we first heard about the Finances First Study, and several of us from the CRC have since donated to the program.
Our group was truly moved by Julie’s concept, and the way it incorporates health outcomes. The message that it is possible to achieve better health through better financial management is so powerful. And, in turn, better health is likely to contribute to less debt because of lower healthcare expenses. It’s such a positive cycle.
Kalkowski recently joined the Consumer Advisory Board of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This is an additional reason the CRC appreciated the opportunity to help her debunk myths about the debt collection process, and understand how to help consumers recognize the difference between a scam and a legitimate collector. An important part of avoiding the stress of lingering debt can be early communication with creditors and debt collectors in order to resolve the situation before it leads to credit reporting or law suits.