Financial Inclusion Working Paper

Saving and Asset-Accumulation Strategies Used by Low-Income Individuals

This paper presents quantitative and qualitative data regarding the saving and asset-accumulation strategies used by low-income participants in Individual Development Account programs (IDAs). The results of a cross-sectional survey with 298 IDA participants and case studies with 15 IDA participants—the first methods that assessed saving behavior among this population—demonstrate that low-income individuals use psychological and behavioral strategies to save, deposit, and maintain assets. The most frequently used strategies are behavioral saving strategies for increasing the efficiency of spending (e.g., shopping more carefully for food) and for reducing consumption (e.g., spending less on leisure). Qualitative results indicate that individuals also use goals and mental accounting to help them save, view their deposits as bills or pay their accounts first to help them make deposits, and create “rules-of-thumb” to maintain assets. Linear regression results suggest that the behavioral saving strategies are not predictors of savings amounts in IDAs. Additional research is needed to understand the saving process among low-income individuals.

Citation

Moore, A., Beverly, S. G., Sherraden, M., Sherraden, M. S., Johnson, L., & Schreiner, M. (2000). Saving and asset-accumulation strategies used by low-income individuals (CSD Working Paper No. 00-17). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.