Briefs & Summaries Financial Behaviors Financial Inclusion

Does Unsecured Debt Decrease Savings? Evidence From the Refund to Savings Initiative

In the wake of the Great Recession, low- and moderateincome (LMI) households continue to face significant obstacles that prevent them from developing healthy balance sheets. One proposed step toward enabling financial health in these households is to encourage saving at tax time, when tax refunds bring many LMI households the year’s largest influx of cash. However, high debt may prevent many of these households from saving at tax time. This brief summarizes findings on household debt and saving from the Refund to Savings (R2S) Initiative, which provides detailed information on the financial lives of LMI households.

Project: Refund to Savings (R2S)


Grinstein-Weiss, M., Oliphant, J., Russell, B. D., & Boshara, R. (2015, March). Does unsecured debt decrease savings? Evidence from the Refund to Savings Initiative (CSD Research Brief No. 15-16). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.